For many, the cold winter weather is something they’d like to escape from. It can be uncomfortable, shocking to your system, and utterly bone chilling. To be honest, my favorite “winter activities” would be sitting next to a fire enjoying a glass of wine, watching a movie, or reading a good book (which I’ll always love). However, there are so many positive qualities about winter that we too readily avoid in opposition of the cold. The season is both beautiful and adds special advantages to our health, from the peaceful enchantment of a fresh snowfall, the crisp clean air, and various winter sports that are not only exciting but offer a killer workout. Below are some great winter sports to try, the health benefits of winter sporting, and how to choose the right attire for the cold outdoors!
Health Benefits Winter Sports
Increased Vitamin D Exposure
- Since most of us tend to stay indoors during the winter, we miss out on our daily dose of vitamin D–which is an integral part of our health. By engaging in an outdoor winter sport however, the direct suns rays we’ll receive are actually strong enough to provide measurable benefit (even with the tiny bit of skin you might be showing).
Cleanses your Lungs and Body
- If you plan on hitting the slopes like I did this winter, the fresh mountain air will do wonders for your lungs, helping to cleanse your airways by providing fresh air that isn’t bogged down with all those environmental city pollutants. You’ll notice yourself becoming completely refreshed by it and much more clear-minded.
Benefits Cardiovascular Health
- By allowing your heart to pump and utilize oxygen, you are promoting increased blood flow and removal of toxins throughout your body. In fact, by doing ANY type of moderate exercise you are preventing your risk of cardiovascular disease, improving your overall quality of life as well as functional movement.
Improves Weight Loss
Of course, any type of physical activity will promote weight loss and a healthier metabolism, not to mention a beautifully toned body (don’t you want to be summer ready before it even gets here?). Here are some averages of calories burned during various winter sports:
- Down-hill skiing—300-600 calories/hour
- Snowboarding—over 450 calories/hour
- Cross-country skiing-–500-600 calories/hour
- Skating—over 400 calories/hour
- Snowshoeing—500-550 calories/hour.
- Tobogganing—350 calories/hour
Tips on Choosing your Winter Gear:
Layer your Clothing–the key is to stay both warm and dry in the cold winter climate while inevitably producing a sweat. It is recommended to have a base layer, a mid layer, and outer layer.
- Your base layer is what touches your skin and so you’ll want a material like polypropylene, silk, polyester, Thermax, Thinsulate, or wool to let your skin breathe. You wouldn’t want to have cotton as your base layer since this will lock in moisture.
- Your middle layer is what will insulate you and keep you warm. It should be a bit looser than the base layer and materials like fleece, down, wool, or polyester are great here. In the above photo I’m wearing the “Hyperfleece” from O’Neill, which served as a great insulter for the windy slopes!
- Finally, your outer layer will actually let the moisture leave, keeping you dry by repelling water while also blocking the elements. You’ll want to go for water-resistant and wind-blocking material. In my photos, the Journey Parka from O’Neill served as the perfect shield. Its fully insulated, has a fixed hood, is water-proof, has elastic cuff adjusters to seal in your gloved wrist, is long enough to fend off the wind, and slim-fitting for style of course 😉 Not only was I feeling chic in my many layers but I was toasty warm my entire time on the slopes!
Note: you can always adjust the thickness of these layers in response to your level of activity or temperature changes.
Disclaimer: Always consult a physician before engaging in any strenuous sport.