Cross country, also known as Nordic, skiing is a fantastic sport to pass what can be a dreary, cold, and long winter. Instead of waiting patiently on the spin bike or treadmill dreaming of those sunny spring days that could be months away, just grab a pair of skis, poles and boots and hit the snowy woods, mountains, and valleys!
Cross country skiing has is a surefire way to improve your cardio fitness as well as full-body physical strength, as well as increase your mental resilience during activity. The stimulation of full-body coordination and elevated heart rate will also help increase your mood, promote healthy metabolism, and give yourself an appreciation of winter, nature, and your body that you may not have had before.
So lets jump right in to the top 5 reasons to start cross country skiing this winter!
1. Great Full Body Workout
It is arguably the best full body strength and endurance workout you can do. The top cross country skiers in the world regularly have the highest VO2 max of all endurance athletes (a great measure of cardiovascular capacity and muscular endurance). However, you do not need to be a top level athlete to benefit from cross country skiing. This sport involves the use of both legs, both arms, as well as a strong and balanced core during this weight bearing endurance activity. All of this means that you simply need to carry your own weight while using just about every muscle in your body. You can fit a great workout into just a bit of time, or go nice and slow and enjoy yourself like snow shoeing or walking/hiking, plus it is more fun because you can slide down the hills! The slippery skis add a nice fun factor for both beginners and experts in that it increases your ability to balance, which can help prevent injury and falls.
2. Low Risk
Cross country skiing is a relatively low-risk winter sport. Compared to hockey, alpine skiing, snowmobiling, or snowboarding, cross country skiing has very little risk. If you choose slower skis along flatter terrain, you do not have to worry about steep or fast downhills, heavy and/or sharp metal equipment and edges, or trees flying at you at 20 mph. It can be as relaxed and leisurely as you want to make it, which makes it a great option for beginners.
3. Kid and Dog Friendly
Kids and dogs are welcome with you when you cross country ski. As long as you are cross country skiing in public lands or at a recreational area that allows dogs, you can ski with your pets and children. This is one of the only winter recreational activities besides just going for a walk that can be done with dogs and kids on your own time. Using skis also gives much more freedom for where you can explore than standard walking trails.
Cross country skiing is relatively affordable to get into and can be free to do! Who doesn’t love saving some money while having fun and a great workout. A day pass to a cross country resort is quite often much less than an alpine day ticket. In addition to that, you can cross country ski for free in certain areas full of nothing but peaceful, quiet woods and tranquil nature. Basic cross country equipment is also much less than alpine skiing, and the boots and clothing is much more comfortable to be worn for longer periods of time, lighter weight, and easier to move around in!
5. No Lift Lines
There are no lines! Many people love alpine skiing, but how often do you hear complaints about the long lines, how early to get up to avoid traffic and trail congestion, waiting on the chairlift (especially when it stops halfway up!), etc. When you go cross country skiing you do not have to wait in any line. You show up, put your gear on, and go explore whatever trails you want, at the pace you want, when you want. In addition to having more freedom, it is much quieter and usually less developed than the land around an alpine ski resort. There are less roads, buildings, towers, and power lines. You can spend your precious free time outside enjoying the peace and quiet of nature, instead of distractions and the hustle of crowded lift areas.
If you are in the mood for some welcome change this winter and want to try out cross country skiing, or are interested in more information, feel free to call or stop by the Skirack!
- Ben Lustgarten,
Skirack Cross Country Ski Ambassador