How to make your ski holiday even better
For most people the summer is a ski free time. Unless you head to one of Europe’s glaciers such as the Grand Mott in Tignes or the Glacier Paradise in Zermatt. Some of us may head down under and take on the slopes of New Zealand and Australia. The rest of us may try and head to the nearest snow dome but unless it is next door you are unlikely to go regularly. As we all know, unless you do something frequently you lose your edge a bit and as we just pointed out, regularly skiing out of season is a bit tough. What we can do is keep fit for skiing, ready for the winter.
The joy of skiing comes from the outdoor environment and the perceived interaction with nature at its most extreme. There are obviously other joys to the sport and the activities that make up your ski holiday, but being outside and being active are the most attractive. So what are the best substitutes for an outdoors summer, getting out in nature as well as keeping fit and strengthening the muscles that you will use when back out skiing on the slopes next winter?
There are two sports that fill all the above requirements; cycling and walking. The great thing about these two activities is that they are good cardiovascular workouts and help to work your core and leg strength. When you go skiing you use these muscles all the time. If you lack these strengths then you will get tired quickly and along with the draining effect that the altitude can have on your body, injuries can easily happen. Whether you do or don’t exercise regularly you should consider adding these two pursuits to your summer schedule.
Cycling is growing in popularity ever since the Wiggins win of the Tour de France and the outstanding achievements of the Great British cycling team
at the London Olympics in the summer of 2012. So why not jump on the band wagon and improve your fitness for next winter. There are so many varieties of cycling so you will probably find one that suits you and like skiing there are also different levels of extremeness. The options for you will depend on where you live but you will probably have the options to take part in Mountain Biking, BMX, Road Riding or if you do fancy the indoors, you could head to the local Velodrome. If you don’t have the time to fit cycling into your busy life then you could try using your bike to commute to work.
So why is cycling such a good exercise companion for skiing? Cycling will use your quad muscles which are key for a long day on the mountain. Cycling, unlike skiing, has a low impact on your knees, by exercising this way your knees will not wear out so fast and you can enjoy many years of skiing. Cycling can also be tailored to feel like a day’s skiing. When we are on the piste we will use short burst of energy then periods of rest. This can easily be recreated on a bicycle and will be the perfect aerobic workout.
Walking is also a great workout and has many of the benefits that cycling has, when preparing yourself for your favourite winter activity. What we are not talking about is a stroll to the shops or the pub. We are talking about hiking, which by definition means walking a long distance. The UK is full of beautiful places to go walking and a beautiful view is a great reward. A long hike will work your core and leg muscles, you can also take walking poles to help with upper body strength, ski poles work just as well.
The best thing about walking is that it can be relatively inexpensive and can form part of a long weekend or mini break. If you really wanted to you could even head out to the Alps in the summer and try out the thousands of walking routes that are in the ski resorts. One important thing to remember when planning a walk if you want the best exercise, you need to add in some hilly routes. This is great as it will lead you to walking in some of the best places in the UK. Try the following places for some great hikes Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Peak District, South Downs, South and North Wales, North Yorkshire Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Galloway, Northumberland and the Scottish Highlands.
Whichever way you plan on staying fit make sure you stay safe and always use the correct equipment. If you are planning to start cycling then there are clubs you can join. Make sure you always wear a helmet when out on your bike. Walking can be dangerous too, if you are planning a long walk then make sure you register your route and take enough provisions. Why not set yourself some goals. There are lots of walking events around the country of varying lengths that you could train for such as the Startreck Challenge in Devon. The same goes for cycling, one great event to be part of is the London to Brighton cycle ride that raises money for the British Heart Foundation.
Get fit in the summer and make your ski holiday even better.