Prepare to Hit the Slopes!

As snow starts falling in the Northern Hemisphere, weekend warriors are dusting off their skis and snowboards and heading for the slopes in increasing numbers. While keeping fit all year round is the best solution for avoiding painfully rediscovering muscles you haven’t used since last ski season, if you haven’t been doing that, experts recommend that skiers and snowboarders start an exercise program prior to hitting the slopes – and it’s never too late to start.

Cardio endurance is essential if you want to get the most you can out of your costly lift ticket. Preparing your body and your heart for a full day’s skiing should include a cardio-focused workout such as running, step aerobics, rollerblading, using an elliptical trainer or stair-master three to five times a week. Workouts should vary in intensity and last between 20 and 45 minutes, with a 60 minute workout once a week to build both strength and endurance. Muscular strength is essential in allowing you to relax into the experience of skiing, while maintaining control and being capable of making the split second adjustments required when negotiating uneven terrain.

While leg strength is important, skiers and snowboarders also need to stretch the upper body, and the core twist is excellent for this. Standing with your knees slightly bent, cross your arms in front of you and slowly look over one shoulder while letting your body follow until a good stretch is felt in your back and side. Hold this position for at least five seconds before repeating on the other side. Include some quadriceps and hamstring stretches in your routine.

Balance boards are a fun and effective way to prepare for time on the snow-covered slopes of your favorite ski resort. Other equipment for balance training includes wobble boards, medicine balls, balance trainers and slide boards. So, start exercising today. Even a short period of pre-slope exercise is better than nothing at all!