Healthy Aging at all Stages of Life

Healthy Aging at all Stages of Life

Ski Slopes: A Season of White, Fresh, Crisp … and Twist, Turns and Jumps, Awaits

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Well, the tables are clear, the guests are gone, the holidaze and season are behind. Time to get back to and down to business. Healthy LIVEstyle!

How about enjoying an exhilarating descent down a snowy mountain or a leisurely ski stroll through a winter wonderland of snowy, forested fields with beautiful scenery for some downhill or cross-country, tree-hugging fresh air skiing?

Great news to share! There are different types of skiing: Alpine, Nordic, and Cross-Country (XC). So, you can find YOUR space and pace.

We’re all about movement at HUmineral, and in our last blog on staying healthy while at your desk, we shared tips for getting your blood flow going. Well, with the current season, you can keep flowing even as you play in the snow.

SKI Much?

The exact origins of skiing and its inventor are not clear. However, one thing is certain: skiing was originally designed for movement, facilitating travel from point A to B (or for those inclined towards challenges, Z), serving both hunting and transportation purposes. The very first skis, dating back to 8,000 years BC, were discovered in Northern China.

The Norwegian military held its first ski competition in 1767. It was later included as an event in the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924. After the second World War, veterans helped spread the sport of skiing across the globe.

The very first community believed to have skied were the Sami, the only indigenous people in Scandinavia throughout the Middle Ages. The Sami are widely credited with being the inventors of the ski. By the 1800s, skiing had become a popular sport and recreational activity. Norwegians had started skiing in the Alps on racing trails. The design of the ski evolved during this period and took a significant leap forward with the invention of the Cambered Ski in Telemark, Norway.

You may already be aware of the various ski options. But for those who want to know more and learn why skiing can be part of a healthy LIVEstyle – read on.

What are the Ski Types and Differences?

NORDIC – takes place on relatively flat terrain, with only gradual inclines and declines or undulating hills. It encompasses various types of skiing in which the toe of the ski boot is fixed to the binding in a manner that allows the heel to rise off the ski.

ALPINE – skiing takes place on downhill slopes where the boot is attached to the ski from toe to heel. These slopes can often be very steep and contain challenging elements like jumps or moguls. Only those well-practiced should attempt alpine skiing. It involves skiing down a slope, usually making turns and various maneuvers. Here are some key Alpine terms to know

  • Schuss: when skis are parallel and pointed downward, allowing the skier to move straight and fast down the mountain.
  • Slalom: a technical event with the shortest course and the quickest turns.
  • Speed: fastest alpine ski events, downhill and super-G.
  • Switch: skiing backwards. Skier’s back is pointed toward bottom of the slope, while skier’s front is facing toward top of slope. Sometimes called “fakie.”
  • Switch up: While sliding on a rail, the skier jumps, spins 180 degrees (or more) in the opposite direction, and lands back on the rail. Also called a swap.
  • Moguls: are bumps that you’ll find on some groomed slopes at downhill ski areas. They can be constructed purposely by the ski area, but often they form naturally as skiers carve turns down the hill. When skiers make sharp turns, their skis carve snow out, pushing a bit away.

Cross Country-XC Skiing – a form of recreational skiing whereby skiers traverse snow-covered terrain without the use of ski lifts or other assistance. XC skiing is practiced as more of a recreational activity. However, some who live in mountain areas us it as a means of transportation. On some XC trails there may be very slight hills. Mostly picturesque views of trees, surrounding hills and the calm quiet. But, a VERY good full body, fluid work out!

Most ski resorts provide a dedicated ski school or beginner learning area, often informally referred to as the “bunny slope” or “bunny hill.” This designated area allows novice skiers to take classes, easing into the sport and gaining initial proficiency in a low-pressure environment.

Dr. Josef Niebauer, a professor of sports medicine and cardiology and director of the Institute for Molecular Sports and Rehabilitation Medicine at Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria says skiing is a mix of endurance and resistance training and “It has positive effects on the heart and circulation, as well as peripheral muscles—predominately the legs.”

In terms of working your heart, Niebauer’s research A Comparison between Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing and Indoor Cycling on Cardiorespiratory and Metabolic Response has shown that downhill skiing roughly equates to cycling or rowing workouts. Of course, hopping through lush, deep, white powder snow will push your heart rate higher than a leisurely slalom down a groomed run. But he says that all types of downhill skiing (and cross-country) offer cardio-metabolic benefits, including improved insulin resistance, body composition and glucose metabolism, as well as a drop in blood pressure, blood lipids and heart rate.

Skiing seems to reinvigorate blood vessels and cell health. “We saw positive effects on arterial stiffness, which is a sign of rejuvenating arteries,” Niebauer says. (Arterial stiffness is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke).

Skiing is also a form of interval training, which has lately become one of the hottest fads in the fitness world. After pushing yourself for anywhere from 20 seconds to 15 minutes during a run, you get a nice break as you ride the ski lift back up the hill.

A growing body of evidence suggests this on-off style of training—working hard for a few minutes, then taking a breather—can provide a range of benefits, for extending a healthier life. This style of training is now known as High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

However, skiing really distinguishes itself from other fitness activities when it comes to firing up and training the muscles of your lower body. “The mix of highly coordinated movements with different types of exercise modes”—carving, skidding, quick turns, jumping—”and the mix of eccentric, isometric and concentric muscle work might be seen as quite unique when compared with other types of physical activity,” says Thomas Stöggl, a skiing researcher and associate professor of sports science and kinesiology at the University of Salzburg.

Here at HUmineral we believe that it is important to work on and work out, every body part; this requires multiple different forms of MOVEMENT (exercise). If you are a skier, good for you, continue to challenge yourself every year. Visit a new resort, try a new mountain or run and don’t forget the perks afterwards:

  • a hot beverage or brewskie in the warm (the darker the brewski the – healthier hops),
  • cozy lodges,
  • and the hot soaks and pampering at SPA.

For those game and curious to try, start with XC, a great way to dive in, slowly. This year I visited Schweitzer mountain again and also XC skied for the first time in a long time at Pine Street Woods in Sandpoint, ID. FUN, FUN, FUN!!! And a workout.

Where To Ski?

Here are a few wonderful places to whisk away to for your winter wonderland: Sandpoint, ID, Schweitzer, and Vail, CO., The Vail Cascade Resort & Spa (fabulous spa), both offer advanced ski runs. Taos, in northern New Mexico, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where the Rockies begin. Taos is also a great summer getaway. It offers easy access to four downhill ski areas.

Telluride, CO, offers steep, challenging runs and Whistler Blackcomb, if you are a daredevil and love black or double black runs with breath taking views, some of these could be calling you.

Happy winter hopping! See you on the slopes!
Swish, Swish …..

Watch this quick brief on becoming a better Skier

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