Although mostly unrecognized as a “sport” until recently, there are many benefits – both physical and mental – to snow sports such as snowboarding/skiing. For some, snow sports are a great way to spend time with friends and enjoy a day out on the slopes. For others, a day on the mountain is an escape into the wintery wilderness that is filled with deep pockets of snow, blue bird skies, and it becomes a place where one reaches an almost meditative state of mind. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of snowboarding and skiing.
- Vitamin D: Either way you cut it, a day on the mountain is a great way for you to get some much-needed Vitamin D, a commonly lacking nutrient during the winter months. As soon as the sunlight hits your skin, the circuitous process begins – immediately getting your liver and kidneys involved. Studies have shown that no other vitamin has such great disease-fighting powers as Vitamin D. So the next time you’re out on the mountain, embrace the cold, pull off that beanie, remove those goggles, and bask in the rays of the sun. The temperature may be low but the rays are strong.
- Exercise: While spending a day on the mountain is fun, it is also great exercise. Whether you’re swooshing on corduroy or nestled beneath the snow-covered evergreens lost in the deep snow, you are getting a great cardio work out. Just a few hours on the slopes can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. It has also been documented that just a few hours of moderate activity can lower your risk for colon and breast cancer.
- Mental Health: Most of us spend our time exercising inside a gym – hopefully one that isn’t dark and dreary. Snowsports bring you smack dab in the middle of wide open, beautiful scenery that is believed to have a positive effect on one’s mental health. Natural light helps elevate mood, and exercising outside has shown to relax and cheer up people by releasing dopamine into our systems. Approximately 15 minutes of sunlight and soaking in that Vitamin D is known to reduce depression and lower anxiety, not to mention that it also helps you sleep better at night.
- Concentration: A day spent snowboarding or skiing can help elevate your mood, making you feel more relaxed, but did you know that a day outside on the slopes can help improve your concentration as well? Time spent outside, even for a short time, can help free up the mind allowing us to be more creative, lower our stress levels, increase our alertness, and help us focus. For that very reason, some of our most profound thoughts come to us while we’re outside.
- Stress Reduction: Spending time out on the mountain in nature helps boost our mental health. The human body produces a stress hormone called cortisol, which is proven to be reduced when spending time outside, so even when we’re just taking a break on our favorite trail we’re lowering our stress levels. Something as simple as taking a ride up on our favorite lift helps balance our stress levels, improve our mood, and boost our immune system.
In addition to all of these individual benefits, snowboarding or skiing is a great way to get outdoors in the winter. Many people experience Seasonal Affective Depression, partially due to less sunlight and reduced activity during the winter months, which affects our overall health. Finding a way to enjoy the winter, embrace the powder, and get your heart pumping is a much needed alternative to sitting on the couch and gaining winter weight.
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