Cross Country Skiing’s Dirty Secret
By Sally McMurdo
Here’s the secret, cross country skiing is good for you and fun, too. Whether you’re a toddler or an octogenarian, racer or tourer, skate skier or diagonal strider, Nordic skiing will do wonders for your physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. It’s a great way to fight obesity and winter ennui while spending time communing with nature and fellow humans. It’s low cost entertainment and low-impact exercise. Need proof? Read on:
Physical Benefits: Cross country skiing is a full-body workout where you use your leg, arm, and core muscles to propel you forward on the flats and up and down hills. That’s probably why in a study of octogenarian men completed by researchers in Sweden and Indiana’s Ball State University, the lifelong Nordic skiers were “40% fitter” than lifelong endurance athletes in their 80”s. It’s the full-body workout.
The study also stated that, “one hour of moderate cross-country skiing can burn approximately 470 calories for a 130 pound person and nearly 700 calories for a 190 pound person…Nordic skiing burns more calories than any other form of exercise or sport – up to 1,122 calories per hour for vigorous mountaineering.”
Have you ever noticed that Nordic skier racers are seldom overweight and look good in lycra?
As far as hear health, the proof is in the pudding. Individuals can reduce their resting heart rates through regular skiing. Olympic skiers have resting heart rates between 28 and 40 beats a minute. The average resting heart rate of most people is between 60 and 80 beats a minute.
It’s what the Health Fitness Revolution article referred to as “therapeutic thinking time.” As I’m skiing and getting my heart rate up, the release of endorphins are lifting my mood. I rarely come back from a ski in a bad mood.
Nordic families have great adventures skiing together. Old friends meet up for a social ski and refreshments after. Nordic skiing brings out the smiles and laughter as people of all ages enjoy good exercise in a beautiful environment.
Skiing through woods or across fields takes me out of myself to meditate on the wonders of nature. I stop and listen to hear chickadees or pileated woodpeckers. I look for tracks in the snow and wonder who went there. I feel the cool wind and snow on my face. If I’m quiet enough, I will hear the swish of my skis on snow and the sound of snow falling.
If you’ve never cross country skied, this is the year to try it. Visit one of the six local ski touring centers, rent equipment, and take a lesson. If you’ve skied before, make this the year you’ll ski more with friends and family or solo. Reap the many benefits of Nordic skiing.