The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get in a good workout. Winter sports offer great opportunities to keep your body fit. Most winter sports require a strong interaction between upper and lower body muscles, creating an effective workout. Beginners in the sport usually use more energy and need lots of endurance compared to an advanced winter athlete who will use more muscle power. Whether you’re an avid athlete of one of these sports, or want to try one for the first time, winter sports keep you at the top of your game.
The most essential skill in skiing is balance, which totally works your core. Plus, the side to side movement of the lower body, the stabilization of the pelvis and the slight tilt of the torso give your core a full-blown workout.
Feet and Ankles:
Even though you’re wearing pretty hefty boots, your feet and ankles get an incredible workout from skiing. Your feet and ankles are responsible for the edging and rotating motion as you head down the slope.
Knees and Legs:
The bending and straightening of your knees to absorb the shock or impact while you’re going down the mountain is enough to give you a full-leg workout. Add on the work your shins do to help you turn directions and how your calves prevent you from falling forward, your legs will be working from top to bottom.
Your glutes are responsible for stabilizing the body as you’re in motion. Your hip rotation to change direction as you ski down the mountain is controlled by those large posterior muscles.
The core is constantly engaged to keep you balanced. Add the frequent changing sides from heel to toe while turning, traversing and stopping/starting, requires strong control of the core.
You need strong knees and thighs to snowboard because you’re constantly in a slight bend. You’ll never see a snowboarder go down the mountain standing fully upright. This bend in the knees is important for balance and absorbing impact as you head down the slope.
The angle of your bindings and boots keep you in a partial squat, which ensures that your calf muscles are always on
Ankles and Feet:
Your ankles and feet get a good workout as they help stabilize you on the board.
Hip and Glute Muscles:
As you steer and carve the board, you’re using your hip and gluteal muscles.
You have to have a strong core to ice skate because the sport is all about balance. You’re sliding on a small sliver of metal on top of an incredibly slippery surface.
Leg, Hip and Glute Muscles:
As you propel yourself on the ice, in any direction, you’ll use your entire leg group from your knee upward to your lower back.
Having strong ankles is essential in ice skating, not only for balance, but also for gliding, turning and moving across the ice.
Even if you aren’t doing hard core jumps and spins that require your knees to brace for impact, your knees will get a significant workout from pushing off and gliding across the frigid surface.
Note: Skating outside offers a bit more of a workout than an indoor rink since you’re contending with wind and a bumpier, harder ice.
The stabilization during push off and while gliding on the ice requires a lot of ankle strength as well as calf muscles and shin.
The hamstrings and quadriceps get an intense workout through the flexion and extension you use to work your way around the ring, especially when you’re skating fast.
There is no doubt that your hips get a tremendous workout from playing hockey. When you’re following a puck and moving through teammates and opponents, your hips move your legs in every direction possible. Having strong hips keeps you safe in the game.
Core and Lower Back:
Your core and lower back connect the lower body movement to the upper body movement, maintaining stability.
Snow shoeing requires a wider stance than normal walking, so your hips gain a little more of a workout to stabilize your body. Climbing slopes really works your hip flexors (the muscles in front of your hips, too.
Your entire upper leg gets an incredible workout as you navigate the mountain terrain and trails. You’ll work your quads while climbing hills and your hamstrings when descending slopes (just like hiking). Your abductors and adductors are used when walking sideways like a crab – you need to do this when traversing the trail or going up or down very steep slopes. Also, you lift your legs high – like marching – to lift your snowshoe over the snow, which works your entire upper leg.
If you don’t want your calves to utterly burn, utilize heal lifts, otherwise you may experience some major cramping.
Chest, Arms and Back:
Using poles helps with balance, but also engages more of your body (mainly the upper body).
While you’re “mainly” sitting on a snowmobile, your body actually moves a lot as you lean side to side and brace for impact when traversing the trail, giving your hip flexors a good workout.
Core and Back:
You don’t get to casually lean back and just chill out while snowmobiling, so your core and back muscles will be used a ton to keep you upright and stable. A snowmobile responds to your weight distribution, so having strong core muscles is key as you lean into the turns.
Shoulders and Forearms:
Gripping the handles or the person in front of you and responding to the vibration of the snowmobile gives your arms a deserving workout.
More advance riders use their lower body when executing jumps and big drops.
Sledding or Tubing
Pulling your sled or tube up the hill while taking high steps over the snow gives your legs a good workout. Add a young sibling, a bunch of gear or a friend in the apparatus and you’ll gain a major upper body workout too.
Keeping your body upright and stable while bounding down a hill works your core muscles. If you’re shifting weight to steer your craft, you’re accruing a more intense workout.
Grab your gear, pull on a warm hat and scarf and head outside to play in the snow.