Amazing Health Benefits of Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skis on Fence

The day my Dad bought me my first pair of cross country skis, suited me up and placed me outside in the backyard in the vegetable patch was the start of a life long love for cross country skiing. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 33 years since I strapped my little boots into those wooden skis to learn to ski. Cross country skiing is part of many memories with my family exploring Canada, mostly by car by attending different races and loppets.

Cross country skiing is a sport that many people can participate in as they age. Those who are no longer able to downhill ski without hip, back or knee pain are able to slap their feet onto the narrower boards and glide along the snow. The belief that you can’t go fast on cross country is simply untrue. The only challenge is that you have to propel yourself up the hill first!

World class cross country skiers are among the most aerobically fit individuals on the planet. Their maximum volume of oxygen uptake (VO2max)), a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness is 70-95 ml/min/kg compared to a sedentary male who’s VO2max).is around 35 – 45 ml/kg/min (top end sports)

An article in the Globe and Mail promotes the "Jaw Dropping Benefits of Cross Country Skiing" and explains some of the wonderful physiological benefits of this full-body sport. What stood out was that a study in the January 2013 issue of Journal of Applied Physiology compared the fitness levels of some very fit lifelong octogenarian cross country skiers with age matched untrained men and found that:

the superior cardiovascular and skeletal muscle health profile of the octogenarian athletes provides a large functional reserve above the aerobic frailty threshold and is associated with lower risk for disability and mortality.

​New to cross-country skiing? Read these 7 Tips for Beginner Cross Country Skiers

The take home message? Live Long, Cross Country Ski and Prosper. So get outside on a pair of cross-country skis!

References 

​Trappe S, Hayes E, Galpin A, Kaminsky L, Jemiolo B, Fink W, Trappe T, Jansson A, Gustafsson T, Tesch P. New records in aerobic power among octogenarian lifelong  endurance athletes. [Abstract] J Appl Physiol. 2013. Jan; 114(1): 3-10. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01107.2013. Epub 2012 Oct 11. 

Photo credit – Ben E (elementary school friend)

Alfred Ball

CEO | Practicing Kinesiologist | Certified Fascial Stretch Therapist. He founded Lifemoves in 2007. He has been a Practicing Kinesiologist and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach with the NSCA for over 15 years. When he isn't helping people regain their strength and confidence to move with ease he is hanging out with his wife and young son, writing, or training for his next endurance running race. His big audacious goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

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