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

Cross country skiing for old people -Rebel Retirement

“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, 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

Why cross-country skiing is good for you.

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, joint flexibility, loss of vision, and reaction time.

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

  • 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 of 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.

Do you have achy joints?

Movement is key to flexibility and joint health. That’s why classic cross-country skiing is so beneficial. (You may enjoy reading, 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 are in need of a good night’s sleep, the complete workout you get from cross-country skiing promotes deep sleep.

Take Away

Cross-country skiing 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 12/18/21

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