The Best Winter Sport to Get You into Shape Fast
If getting back into shape tops your goals for the New Year, you have plenty of company. While intentions start off great, the cold weather may tempt you to stay indoors for your workouts — or persuade you to forgo exercising altogether to enjoy a book or movie with a tasty snack (which is fine when you keep the snacks healthy, like this Kettle Corn with Wheat Germ). Braving the outdoors is truly worth it, however, when you learn the amazing health benefits of one particular cold-weather sport: cross-country skiing.
Cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, can jump-start your fitness routine like almost no other sport. It offers a total body workout, utilizing arm, core and leg muscles while getting your heart rate up for excellent cardiovascular exercise. All that work helps recreational skiers burn around 600 calories per hour and more advanced skiers burn 1,000 calories an hour or more!
Compared with other winter sports, such as downhill skiing and ice skating, cross-country skiing is fairly easy to learn and results in fewer injuries. This low-impact aerobic workout allows you to increase your endurance over time, so everyone from beginners to pros who prefer the more challenging (and calorie blasting) skate skiing technique can get a great workout. One of the best aspects of this sport goes beyond the physical: Getting out and enjoying beautiful vistas on a wintry day can improve your mood in no time!
Do it Right
If you’re just getting back into your exercise routine, prepare for cross-country skiing with some basic strength training and cardio. The elliptical machine offers particularly good training because it works both the upper and lower body while providing aerobic exercise. Once you’re on skis, start slowly, practicing proper technique and form before amping up the aerobics. Taking a lesson accelerates the learning curve and familiarizes you with cross-country equipment basics.
Don’t forget to dress the part: Wear layers, keeping warmth and comfort in mind. Clothing that allows you to move freely optimizes the cross-country skiing experience.
Finally, make sure to fuel up before and after skiing, and bring along snacks and water in a small backpack if you plan to exercise for longer than an hour. An hour or so before starting your workout, eat a piece of whole-grain toast topped with peanut butter, wheat germ and sliced bananas for both simple and complex carbohydrates to help you stay energized as you glide across the slopes. Once you get home, drink plenty of water and replenish carbs with a quick pick-me-up like these Honey Crunch Energy Bars with Wheat Germ. Within two hours, prepare a balanced meal with lean protein, carbs and heart-healthy fats to help your muscles recover. This Coconut and Wheat Germ Crusted Chicken is a great main dish, while Crispy Cauliflower with a Twist provides a delicious side for Salmon with Lemon, Dill and Wheat Germ Sauce.
What are your favorite winter workouts? Leave a comment below and let us know!