Health Benefits of Cross-Country Skiing

By Jamie Marfurt, PA-C

Nordic skiing is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise. It’s a great stress reliever and it allows for socialization in a weather that tends toward isolation. Plus it gives people a chance to be outside and breathe some fresh air while getting the chance to see how beautiful winter can actually be.

Work Those Muscles

Cross-country skiing is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. By working more than one muscle group simultaneously, an individual can perform this activity longer than an activity that works only one muscle group. This lessens the fatigue a single muscle group experiences when isolating them (e.g. leg day, chest day, arm day, etc.) This form of exercise works the lower extremities (calves, quads, hamstring, abs.) as well as the upper extremities (rhomboids, deltoids, triceps and biceps, etc).

We Need More of the Outdoors

A fun point about the activity is it can be enjoyed alone or in a group, making it a socially enjoyable experience. During the winter time in Western New York, it is important for people to stay active. Those who hole up in their homes for weeks on end can do harm to themselves not just physically, but mentally as well. Seasonal affective depressive disorder (SADD) is a condition that affects people who live in geographical areas — like Western New York — that receive less sunlight in the winter time. SADD can cause people to become less social and active since their bodies are looking for the sunshine it was used to during the summer. This can be linked to the drop in vitamin D people get from the lower sun light exposure. Vitamin D is made naturally in the human body, but it requires exposure to certain ultra violet rays that we get from natural sun light. Too little sunlight can be bad, just as too much can be bad. Finding a good middle ground is ideal.

Talk to your Medical Provider

Cross-country skiing helps people to stay active during months when they would normally be sedentary. Before beginning any form of exercise that is unfamiliar to you it is always a good idea to check with your primary care provider. If you suffer from osteoporosis, asthma, high blood pressure or other cardiac issues, you should consult your physician before starting this activity.

Jamie Marfurt is a physician’s assistant (PA-C) at Sunrise Medical Group in Orchard Park.

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