The colder months give many people the perfect excuse to laze on the couch and put exercising off until spring comes round. However, you probably didn’t know that cold weather is perfect for doing so-called winter sports. If you like outdoor fun and adrenaline rushing through your body, there is no season like winter!
What are winter sports
Winter sports are ones that can be done by making the most of the season’s environmental conditions, such as ice or snow. These may be natural conditions, such as on mountains, or artificial, such as on a curling or hockey rink.
So, although Spain is generally a warm country, there are many cities that don’t escape the cold in winter. When temperatures drop, we tend to eat more and cut down on physical activity which is likely because most people are not aware of the benefits of exercising in winter.
Benefits of exercising in winter sports
The first few workouts will be tough, but once your body gets the hang of the new conditions, it will respond better and be able to exercise for longer. Want to know the advantages of exercising in the colder months? Take note!
Improves your mood
Fewer hours of sunshine and the cold weather mean people suffer from lower moods in winter sports. Regular exercise releases hormones, such as endorphins and serotonin, which give you a sense of well-being.
Strengthens the immune system
Exercising in winter kickstarts the immune system. The effects of physical exercise and exposure to cold weather increase the number of cells responsible for fighting diseases. Having a higher red blood cell count means the immune system can fend off the flu, for example.
However, warming up before exercising is key to preventing injuries or stiffness. The body should get warmed up before starting a strenuous activity. What’s more, if you don’t warm up and the weather is bad, precisely the opposite will happen to your immune system.
Increases vitamin D levels
Winter sports UV levels from the sun are much lower. That is why we must make the most of them to get some vitamin D into the body, which plays a key role in bone health and will reduce the risk of getting a fracture.
Boosts your tolerance for cold weather
Regularly exercising in winter sports increases and improves tolerance to cold weather.
Burns more calories
Keeping the body at the right temperature so that it can function normally burns calories; this is on top of the calories that we burn while exercising. The body needs to go the extra mile to regulate temperature, and this means that, when exercising outdoors in winter, calorie burning is boosted by roughly 30%. Therefore, we can safely say that cold weather helps to boost metabolism and burn more fat.
Improves athletic performance
Exercising in cold weather conditions forces our body to adapt. This means that the body has to make up for the lack of heat with changes that are reflected in lung and cardiac output, but also in the liters of air we breathe per minute, in blood oxygen levels etc. Low temperatures cause muscles to contract and become much stiffer. So, to activate them, you must boost your metabolism and regulate your body temperature.
Increases your cardiovascular fitness
As well as strengthening muscles, it also improves cardiovascular fitness. Why is that? Because the heart has to work harder to pump blood to every corner of your body when you are exercising in cold weather. So, it can lower your risk of heart disease and even prevent it.
The most popular winter sports
Although there are a wide range of sports you can do in winter, let’s look at the most popular ones. Pay attention.
This is one of the most popular and widely practiced. What’s more, it has different disciplines recognized by the International Olympic Committee, such as cross-country skiing or alpine skiing. This sport consists of sliding down the snow with the help of skis attached to your boots and poles with which you can get a better feel for the terrain and control your balance. Warm clothes, goggles, gloves and helmet are required. You can ski all year round on the snowy mountains in some parts of Canada and France.
Snowboarding has been a Winter Olympic sport since 1998 Winter Olympics, and is often compared to surfing or skateboarding. It is an extreme winter sport, which consists of doing acrobatics and jumps on a board on an inclined and snowy surface.
Freestyle snowboarding groups several disciplines, such as big jumps, half and quarter-pipe jumps; it is the athlete’s skill in the jumps and twirls that is scored. However, there are also off-piste or freeride forms, such as boardercross, parallel slalom and mountain snowboarding. The latter is like cross-country skiing. Balance and skill are really important in this sport.
This winter sport can be done on artificial and natural surfaces alike. It differs from traditional skating in that the boots are mounted on blades, not on wheels. The heel is also made of wood. There are different types of ice skating:
- Figure skating. The goal is to do flamboyant and original flips in time with the music. There are single and pair events. Competitors must perform both a short and long program. The short one lasts 2 minutes and 40 seconds whereas the long one lasts for 4 minutes. Men are given 30 seconds more time in each case.
- Speed skating. The goal is to cross the finish line in the shortest possible time. There are numerous disciplines (relay, pursuit and singles), and are raced on long or short tracks.
- Extreme. This is similar to skating or BMX riding and unlike figure skating, that is more similar to classical ballet. The goal is to do acrobatics on ice.
Hailing from Canada where it is considered a national sport and is one of the most popular in winter sports. It is also popular in other countries in the northern hemisphere, such as the United States, Russia and some Central European countries. Teams comprise 6 players who skate and push forward a rubber puck with a stick. The goal is to get the puck into the rival team’s goal.
Regular games consist of three 20-minute periods, with a 15-minute intermission after the first and second periods. Players must wear protective pads and, interestingly, the corners of the rinks must always be rounded. The reason is to prevent the puck from getting stuck and slowing down the game.
Electrical stimulation to complement training
Athletes training to compete in winter sports should not only focus on strengthening their muscles; they must undertake a process aimed at obtaining surefire results when it comes to performance and continuous improvement. This is where training with electrical stimulation plays a key role. Numerous studies highlight that there is a 27% increase in the voluntary contractions in the quads due to the improvements in the structural and nervous nature that electrical stimulation training provides.
Sports coaches quite often make cutting-edge technology such as the electrical stimulation suit available to athletes. Because, once you know what EMS is and how it can help you perform better, it is no wonder that you’ll want to include it in your training whenever possible. Visible results are more than guaranteed after 8 sessions.
There are even cases in which hockey and electrical stimulation are combined, the perfect combination to boost athletic performance while reducing fatigue. What’s more, muscular electrical stimulation promotes muscle recovery after a grueling workout.
Advantages of electrical stimulation
EMS should not replace regular training, but it can help you to achieve better results. All in less time and without breaking your back. Want to make it part of your workouts? Let’s look at its advantages.
- Promotes muscle activation and fiber contraction.
- Does not cause fatigue and allows those who use it to bang out longer training sessions.
- Improves endurance as well as strength and power.
- Promotes capillarization, blood circulation and lymphatic circulation.
- Boosts metabolism
- Helps rid the body of toxins.
- It is great for post-workout muscle recovery.
This technique has now become a key part in many athletes’ workout routines. It not only improves athletic performance, it also helps skiers, for example, to prevent and treat knee injuries.
Getting in shape in the least amount of time to do winter sports is much easier if you are willing to give electrical stimulation a try. You’ll get more bang for your training buck. Subscribe to our blog to be the first to get updates on everything we have to offer you!