Active Ways to Enjoy a Winter Wonderland

Up here in New England, it gets cold quickly in the fall/winter months, as I know is the same for much of the Country.  For many of us, our training has been brought indoors due to safety issues with outdoor training.  You can’t exactly go flying down the Keene Descent in December!

Let’s take a look at some cold weather activities that are both fun AND great workouts, while being COVID-19 friendly.

Skiing

Coach Kelly, Coach Ryan and Sonic raffle assistant extraordinaire Ivy can all attest to the benefits that can come from skiing, and not to mention the fun!

There are many ways we can benefit from skiing, some examples being:

  • It is an aerobic sport, which means it is going to elevate your heart rate and increase your cardiovascular endurance
  • Strengthens your core and improves balance
  • Along with strengthening your core, you are also training your pelvic floor muscles
  • Benefits to your bones and joints. Since skiing is a weight bearing exercise, your joints work harder to absorb the tension as you descend down the slopes.  Resulting in strengthening your bones and improving flexibility to your joints.
  • When skiing, your body tends to stay in the squat position, which is going to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Equipment needed/suggested:

  • Ski set up
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Neck gaiter
  • Ear protection/hat
  • Ski or snowboard pants/bib and jacket
  • Warm base layer
  • Light top to wear over base layer
  • Warm socks

Cross-Country Skiing

For those that may have a fear of zipping down a mountain side, fear not!  Cross-Country Skiing has very similar benefits as skiing and snowboarding.  The difference between the two all comes down to the skis and the terrain.  A downhill ski is only designed for descents, whereas cross-country skis give you the versatility to go on flat or hilly terrain.

Equipment needed, same as skiing plus:

  • Sturdy boots
  • Sunglasses or goggles (either would work)
  • Alternatively to the ski bib/jacket combo, a thick or puffy coat and waterproof light material that dries quickly for your pant option would work as well depending on the temperature

Snowboarding

For me, I enjoy snowboarding because it makes me feel like I am surfing on snow!  The biggest difference between snowboarding and skiing is the equipment used.  While skiing uses a separate ski for each foot, snowboarding uses a single board with both feet strapped on.

Snowboarding is also an aerobic sport with the same benefits as skiing.  We are working out many of the same muscle groups as skiing, but with the added engagement of the feet and ankles.

Equipment needed/suggested: Same as skiing, but with a snowboard set up.

Snowshoeing

Have you ever looked at a trail buried in snow and thought “Man, I’d love to explore that”?  We have your solution!  Snowshoeing is a super beginner friendly winter activity that will extend your running season.  In fact, you get a similar aerobic workout as you would get from running or cycling.

What is Snowshoeing?

Using a light racket-shaped frame strapped to each of our feet that when worn, we are able to walk on deep snow without sinking.

Health benefits of Snowshoeing:

  • Aerobic workout building endurance
  • Full body workout. This is another activity that is going to help with strengthening your core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, back and arms.
  • Low impact – great for those with bad knees

Equipment needed/suggested:

  • Snow Shoes
  • Ski poles
  • Waterproof Hiking or winter boots
  • Sunglasses or goggles (either would work)
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Neck gaiter
  • Ear protection/hat
  • Ski or snowboard pants/bib and jacket or a thick or puffy coat and waterproof light material that dries quickly for your pant. Depending on the temperature.
  • Warm base layer
  • Light top to wear over base layer
  • Warm socks

Ice Skating

Now THIS is my jam! I love getting out and gliding across the ice.  There is something very peaceful about it to me, which is one of the many benefits we get from it.  It is one of those activities that often times does not even feel like we are working out.  When in fact, it is a fantastic aerobic workout.

Health benefits of Ice Skating:

  • As stated above, it is a great aerobic workout
  • Core strengthening
  • Improved joint flexibility
  • Leg workout – Strengthening your glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings and ankles

Now Ice Skating is one that takes some practice, but don’t give up!  I have found these great learning aids made from PVC pipes for kids that can be a fun DIY project.  I have also seen them modified for adults just learning how to skate.

Equipment needed/Suggested:

  • Ice Skates
  • Helmet
  • Knee and elbow pads, especially for those just learning
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Ear Warmer/hat
  • Warm Base Layer
  • Light or thick jacket, depending on the temperature
  • Water and wind resistant pants
  • Warm socks

What benefits do we get from ALL of these activities?

  • Boost happiness and improves mental health
  • Promote better sleep
  • Improve flexibility
  • Increase Vitamin D
  • And more!

The cold winter months can be hard on all of us.  It is difficult to stay motivated and moving.  Along with your swim, bike, run, consider stirring it up a bit by adding some of these activities to your training plan.  After a conversation with your Coach, of course 😉

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