There is no better exercise than cross-country skiing. This endurance sport (also called Nordic skiing) originated about 5,000 years ago, when people living in the area known today as Scandinavia strapped the bones of large animals to shoes with leather thongs.
Technically, it’s not much more complicated today than it was back then, although the equipment has become more sophisticated. Cross-country skiers now use runners made of fibreglass, wood, or plastic. It’s just a matter of gliding through fresh powder or wet mush. All in all, it’s about scooting over icy patches and through slush.
Cross-country skiing is one of the few activities that requires you to use all of the major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body at the same time. This results in a sizable aerobic benefit as well as a great caloric expenditure.
Also, unlike downhill skiing, it places little stress on the joints, so it’s suitable for people of all ages and most fitness levels.
Finally, the gliding motion stretches your muscles, especially those in your calves, hamstrings, and lower back. As if all that weren’t enough, cross-country skiing immerses you in the beauty of wintertime nature and lets you enjoy it at a relaxed pace afforded by few other sports.
Why It’s Good for You:
• It’s a comprehensive, total-body workout. Yet because it’s low impact, the injury rate is lower than that of similar sports.
• It can strengthen your cardiovascular system. Plus, it promotes weight loss and reduces stress, freeing the immune system to fight illness.
• It burns 550 calories per hour. That’s if you weigh 150 pounds. If you’re heavier, you’ll burn even more.