The Secret to a Long Life [Benefits of Cross Country Skiing]

Cross country skiing for old people -Rebel Retirement

Apparently, the woman understood the secret to a long life through the benefits of cross-country skiing for older people.

“It’s a beautiful day for a workout,” she said as she glided past me skiing with ease like a woman 20 years her junior.

My last cross-country skiing adventure was completely invigorating!  By the end of the 4.5k loop, I felt totally revitalized. While my kick and glide technique has improved, I couldn’t help but compare myself to the older folks who effortlessly skied right past me, and then out of sight.

As a baby boomer in her early 60s and a beginner cross-country skier, I’m guessing these people were at least 70.

Their confidence, agility, and endurance made a huge impression on me. They definitely inspired me to be an “old person” that cross-country skis with ease.

Clearly, these older skiers discovered the secret to staying young.

Octogenarians have younger bodies because of cross-country skiing.

Several years ago, researchers in Sweden collaborated with researchers at Ball University in Indiana to find out if exercise could potentially improve the quality of life for aging Americans.

All participants were healthy and independent octogenarian men.

However, the men in the Indiana group had no history at all of any type of regular aerobic exercise.

On the other hand, the participants from Sweden had a consistent history of cardio and endurance exercise. They were cross-country skiers.

All took an endurance test on exercise bikes. The results were amazing!

The lifelong skiers had the aerobic capacity of individuals 40 to 50 years younger.

It was concluded that,

“Since we are living longer, our research indicates that lifelong exercise enhances physical capacity, has powerful anti-aging effects, and emphasizes that exercise is medicine, Trappe said. “If we can get people to embrace some sort of regular exercise routine, we can improve their lives.” – quote from BSU

Cross Country Skiing-Rebel Retirement

Cross-country skiing is good for your aging body.

Anyone at any age can reap the benefits of this popular winter sport. However, it’s important to note that it has advantages for older people who may be noticing some of the effects of aging.

Would you like to climb stairs without getting out of breath?

We all know the importance of maintaining cardiovascular health, and cross-country skiing is widely accepted as one of the best exercises to help you do just that.

Cross-country skiing is a fun way to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing.

The benefit of skiing is that it increases your heart’s ability to pump blood and transport oxygen to your large muscles making them work more efficiently.

This translates into better cardiovascular fitness with increased endurance.

Getting stronger will allow you to climb stairs, take hikes, ride bicycles, etc. with greater ease.

Are you afraid of falling and breaking a hip?

The reason older people are known for falling is that they have a loss of muscle strength, lack of joint flexibility, loss of vision, and poor reaction time.

Therefore it’s crucial to do some exercise to lessen the chance of falling and finding yourself lying on the floor with a broken hip calling out for help.

Cross-country skiing can help by providing the following benefits:

    • Balance –  Necessary to keep you up on your feet. With cross-country skiing, you need to shift your weight from side to side as you glide. This shifting motion engages your core and improves your balance. It also improves your kinesthetic sense – meaning that going over uneven terrain while cross-country skiing helps with your perception.  You know more accurately where your body is in space.
    • Muscle Strength – Cross-country skiing uses all of your muscles. When your muscles feel sore, you know you are building muscle and getting stronger.  Upper body muscles get a workout as you push with ski poles to propel yourself forward.  Legs and buttocks are engaged while striding and using a semi-squatting position down slopes. Double polling is an effective way to get a little additional workout in the arms and shoulders.
    • Improves Visual Acuity – Cross-country skiing improves your ability to shift your focus from bright and low-light conditions. Sensing terrain and trail conditions is another way that it helps with visual acuity. Focusing on your body and surroundings will increase your consciousness about potential fall risks and improve your agility to handle them.
    • Enhances Reaction Time – Working on reflexes helps to improve your reaction time. This means you can swiftly respond to a potential fall and prevent it from happening.
    • Boosts Flexibility – Cross-country skiing helps boost flexibility. The benefit to being more flexible is that it allows you to adjust your body quickly to sudden changes in movement, reducing the chance of a fall.

Do you have achy joints?

Movement is key to flexibility and joint health. That’s why classic cross-country skiing is so beneficial.

Read: What Causes Morning Joint Stiffness – Overcoming the Soreness

It’s a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. There’s no jumping or running which can be very hard on the knees.

In addition, many people with arthritis report that their bodies feel much better after an outing of cross-country skiing.

Other ways cross-country skiing can improve your quality of life.

Imagine yourself in a beautiful winter landscape instead of being indoors with cabin fever. Just the sound of that sounds inviting.

Winters can be depressing if you are constantly indoors. Cross-country skiing can help.

The simple act of getting outdoors in nature and moving your body will definitely boost your mood and relieve stress. 

Another advantage to cross-country skiing is the social aspect.  It’s easy to talk with friends or family as you make your way skiing around the trails. And if you go it alone, you’re sure to see some friendly faces gliding by.

I always feel a good kind of exhaustion after an afternoon of cross-country skiing. If you need a good night’s sleep, the complete workout you get from cross-country skiing promotes deep sleep.

Product Suggestions for Cross-Country Skiing

Please check sizes as well as ski, boot, and pole compatibility before making a purchase. Happy skiing!

Cross Country Skis – ROSSIGNOL Unisex Evo XT 55 Positrack Lightweight Stable Beginner Touring Nordic Snow Skis with Touring Nordic Bindings Tour Step-in

Cross-Country Ski Boots – Rossignol XC 5 Boot – Women’s (17692)

Ski Poles – Rossignol FT-500 Cross Country Touring Poles 2023


Cross-country skiing for older people has many advantages. It promotes better health and has remarkable effects on the body.

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where it snows, it would be advantageous for you to hit the cross-country trails.

It results in an exceptional level of physical fitness and is a highly functional way to move. It’s a low-impact workout and a fun way for older people to stay fit in winter.

Getting outdoors in nature is a bonus in that it boosts your mood and increases socialization.

Last updated 11/30/23

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One thought on “The Secret to a Long Life [Benefits of Cross Country Skiing]

  1. Zachary Tomlinson says:

    I find it surprising that you could use skiing as a stress-relieving activity that works as exercise. My friend is looking for ways to enjoy his holiday vacation with his kids. I should suggest that they go try out snow activities by finding ski lessons!

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