If you are an active person looking for a fun winter sport ––try skiing. It’s great for physical, mental, and social well-being––all beneficial to longevity.
Physical fitness: A 2011 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that 12 weeks of skiing leads to an increase in aerobic capacity, leg muscle power, and strength in 60 to 76-year-olds.
Mental well-being: A 2008 Journal of Aging and Health study found that for people over 70, simply getting out of the house every day predicts long-term functional and health benefits. Skiing allows you to enjoy nature, sunshine, fresh air, and beautiful vistas. Don’t forget your sunscreen and lip balm.
Social connections: Skiing is social, and social connections are one of the most important predictors of longevity (See Cultivate Social Power). It’s also a great multi-generational activity and can strengthen family bonds.
While it may seem daunting to learn to ski as an older athlete, it’s easier than you think. Here are some tips to make your first ski trip as enjoyable as possible:
- Find a beginner mountain: Go to a mountain with more beginner runs than expert ones. Deer Valley in Utah and Northstar in LakeTahoe are two great examples.
- Optimize for good weather: The best time to learn is in warmer conditions. As a beginner, you don’t need a power day. March typically provides lovely sunny days with soft snow conditions.
- Skip the crowds: Plan a weekday trip and avoid holiday breaks between Christmas to New Year’s Day, MLK weekend, and President’s day week.
- Go for multiple, half days: Ease into learning. Many resorts sell discounted multi-day passes. Skiing for short periods each day keeps your legs fresh. There’s no need to charge all day from lift opening to closing.
- Splurge for Ski-in / Ski-out lodging: Simplify your day by securing a ski-in / ski-out house, condo, or hotel. This eliminates the need to fight traffic getting to the resort each day. It also makes it easy to get off the mountain and back home, so you can take breaks.
- Rent gear before your first day: To prevent waiting in long lines, rent your skis, boots, poles, helmet, and goggles the day before your first day. Typically the on-mountain rental shops are empty mid-day.
- Get the right outerwear: You’ll need a waterproof ski jacket, ski pants, and gloves. You can borrow from a friend, purchase new, or purchase used. REI Used Gear Shop has great deals. Cinch jackets snug over your gloves and ski pants over your boots to stay dry.
- Dress in layers: You’ll need a moisture-wicking base layer including a long-sleeved shirt and long-john pants. Big Retired Life recommends Icebreaker. For socks, wear thin ski socks.
- Wear protective gear: Wrist guards help prevent forearm injuries if you fall. Of course, helmets are essential.
- Sign up for a series of lessons: Learn from professionals and you’ll progress faster. You can do multi-day group lessons, private one-on-one lessons, or private lessons for your own group.
- Care for your gear: At the end of your ski day, store all your gear in a single indoor location, where it can dry off and can’t get mixed up with other skiers’ gear. A common mistake is leaving gear in the car where they freeze overnight.
Enjoy the beauty of the mountains. Have a great time!
Throughout the “Active You” section of this blog, we will introduce you to ideas on staying active and learning new things.