Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Snowboarding and Its Health Benefits

Snowboarding on ski vacation destinations is not only fun and exciting but is also proven to help improve overall health and wellness. Of course, it is no longer surprising that snowboarding is a fantastic form of exercise - it is physically exhausting, but nonetheless rewarding; engaging not only the core muscles but practically all muscles in the body. It is an excellent cardiovascular exercise that is guaranteed to burn up to 450 calories per hour, making it one of the most effective natural weight loss methods. In addition, it also improves endurance.

All major muscles are worked out each time one snowboards. It charges the quads, hamstrings, and calves into action just as soon as the rider takes the snowboard. Muscles in the feet and ankle direct the board while core muscles strengthen to keep the rider’s balance. Arms and shoulders are also used to enhance balance and also to stand after each fall.

Aside from improving one’s physique, snowboarding is also known to improve one’s disposition in life. Studies reveal that this great exercise helps release “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are considered the body’s natural defense against stress; it reduces perception of pain and anxiety, and is also known to trigger affirmative feelings in the body. In a gist, snowboarding is scientifically proven to make one happy.

Like skiing, snowboarding requires a series of twists and turns as well as changes in speed and direction. This way, it helps develop flexibility and balance. Persons engage in this sport needs to watch out for sudden changes in the snow while making sure they remain upright; hence it also requires focus and concentration.

True enough, snowboarding has several health benefits. With this in mind, consider tearing up snow using that snow board on your next ski trip. It’s a workout that is not only fun but also great for the mind and body.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Plan your meals to maximize your performance on your ski vacation

Eating healthy meals keeps your energy levels up and boosts your performance on your ski vacation. Nutrition plays a key role in skiing, yet it’s often overlooked.

So before you go, plan your meals ahead to avoid hunger strikes, and to perform better on the slopes.

Here are a few tips:

1. Know what and how different food groups can benefit you.

  •  Carbohydrates - This quick-energy source is the main fuel required during a day of skiing. It can energize your brain and muscles, and help jump start your metabolism.
  •  Protein- It does more than just improves bone, muscle and skin strength. It also helps you           recover from soreness, fatigue and injuries quickly.
  • Fruit and vegetable- They contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which boost immune  function and promote healing and recovery necessary after a long day of exercise.
  •  Healthy fats – These include nuts, avocados, or vegetable, sunflower seed, olive or canola oils. They boost metabolism and alleviate inflammation.

2. Create a "made for skiing" meal plan

I.  Breakfast

Do you plan to ski first thing in the morning? If you do, grab a bowl of whole-grain in with low-fat milk.

Other suggestions:
  • Granola bars
  • Banana
  • Bread
  • Rice pasta

These contain carbohydrates, which can speed metabolism and help you fuel up.

II. Snacks

Consuming carbohydrates and a small amount of protein can help minimize damages on muscles during skiing, compared to not eating snacks throughout the day.

Suggested pocket-sized snacks:

  • Odowalla bars
  • Clif shock blocks
  • Go-yurt
  • Nature Valley or chewy granola bars
  • Trail mix (Walnuts, pecans and almonds are smart nut options )
  • Peanut butter sandwich

III. Lunch

After several hours of being on the slopes, your body needs a physical and nutritional break.  Suggested lunch meals are:

  • Turkey or grilled chicken sandwich
  • Pasta with side salad and bread
  • Chicken noodle soup 
NOTE:  Wrap up your lunch with an orange or a banana.

Additionally, avoid eating fried food and burgers if you don't want to suffer from post-lunch energy dip. Instead, opt for a balanced meal with a combination of carbs, lean meat, and healthy fats.

IV. Dinner 

Dinner meals should be similar to what you've eaten during lunch.  It should include carbs, protein, fruits, and veggies, and some healthy snacks. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Salmon
  • Asparagus
  • Brown rice
  • Fruit

3. Apr├Ęs ski snacks made healthier

While relaxing in a bath tub with a bottle of beer, add in some cheese and crackers, granola bars or fruit. Post workout snacks and meals significantly improve muscle recovery, decrease soreness, and improve your performance the next day!

4.  Hydrate yourself

Keeping your body hydrated is one way to ease the symptoms of altitude sickness, especially if your ski vacationdestination is above 8,000ft. Drinking water also helps minimize muscular damage.

There you have it! Eat the right meals to help you maximize your performance on your skivacation.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Understanding the Trail Signs on Your Ski Vacation

Have you ever wondered what it means when you hear from your previous ski vacation skiers or snowboarders say something like, “I can do the blacks” or “I prefer to stay at greens”?

If you are clueless about their meaning, they actually refer to a mountain trail designation system categorizing the difficulty of ski and snowboard slopes. The green circles, blue squares and black diamonds are used throughout the ski vacation destinations in North America (and most of the world) to indicate relative difficulty level. Here's how to classify them:

Green circle stands for the easiest trail at particular resort; blue square indicates more difficult trails; and, black diamond being the most difficult type of slopes.

Additionally, some resorts combined two symbols to show even more degrees of difficulty. You'll find that these resorts have five or six levels (instead of three). These are very helpful as you progress your ski level. Telluride, Colorado, for instance, uses double markings to show six degrees of difficulty.

These are the two blue squares for more difficult trails and two black diamonds for extremely difficult trails.

Meanwhile, some large ski resorts in Colorado including the Winter Park have five designations: A green circle, a blue square, a black diamond inside a blue square, a black diamond and a double black diamond:

A blue square indicates more difficult, a black diamond inside a blue square for even more difficult slopes; and, a black diamond signifies the most difficult trails.

Other useful tips:

·         Some ski resorts have an orange oval on their maps. This orange oval sign means that the particular trails are used for halfpipes and freestyle terrain parks.

·         Make sure your first run should be on the easier slope. Easier slopes allow you to leisurely do warm ups. Also, you can have enough time to evaluate the relative degree of difficulty of the area.

Little known facts:

·         In 1964, the trail marking system in the U.S. used a green square to indicate the easiest trails, and yellow triangle to signify a more difficult level. The blue circle identifies the most difficult trails, and a red diamond marks extreme caution. But four years later, the signs were changed to the present system of using green circle, a blue square and a black diamond.

·         Each ski resort has its own trails marking designations based on the difficulty of the particular skiing area. Most of the resorts have designated 25 percent for green trails. Almost 50 percent are blue, and about 25 percent are black.

·         Not all green trails are easy peasy. If mountain slopes are steep, the green trails will already be a huge challenge for novices. They may not be the easiest trails for some rookies.

Now that you already have the knowledge on the trail marking systems, you must always remember to ski safely and make some precautions before gliding on the slopes on your ski vacation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ski Trip Fitness: how to get fit for the slopes

I'm sure you are excited for your upcoming ski trip. But before that, you should make sure that your body is physically fit for the activities that you will do. Former British downhill skier Graham Bell has a few fitness tips to help you get ready for the slopes.

Cardio. Cardio. Cardio.

Your heart and lungs are the engine that will keep you going all day on the slopes at altitude. Improving your cardiovascular system will help in improving your skiing stamina. Bell suggests to start your cardiovascular exercises at least six weeks before the start of your ski vacation and you'll notice a huge difference.

Even by just going for a brisk walk will provide you a good cardiovascular work out. Walk upstairs or walk up escalators instead of standing still. Try whenever possible to get yourself a little bit out of breath.

Bell also explains that to train for a longer period of time at a manageable pace is the best way to improve your aerobic fitness. It's fine to do it little and often rather than doing it all of a sudden. Cycling, running, rowing or stepping for 20 minutes three times a week will provide a solid base, he adds.

Build up your skiing muscles

A skier is familiar with burning thighs after a long run, or an aching muscles the next day. In order to last longer, you need to build your ski-specific muscles such as your legs, specifically the quadriceps or the thigh muscles, the buttocks and the calves.

Bell suggests to use leg press but avoid knee curls to avoid your knees from getting strained. He added that it is reasonable to do a number of repetitions (up to 20 at a time) in order to build up endurance.

Bell explains that the lower legs take a lot of strain. So it is better to work on strength endurance rather than maximum strength – thus work at 70% of your maximum.

Bell adds that hamstring curls are also an important type of exercise but often forgotten by skiers. Hamstring curls is done by lying on your front and pulling your heels up to your backside. It strengthens the back of the leg and protects the knee from possible knee ligament tears.

But if you don't go to a gym, don't worry. You can perform some exercises at home. Bell suggests doing simple squats and crouching down (your back straight and knee forming a right angle and then back to standing position) and lunges would do.

According to Bell, strengthening some key areas in your body such as your stomach, back and sides are important especially for beginners who fall a lot and use this part of the body to get back up. To prepare them for your ski vacation, Bell suggests to either use the machine in the gym or do sit-ups and press-ups at home. Moreover, having a strong shoulders are important especially for those who take a lot of hits.

Flexibility, balance, and coordination

Increased flexibility helps your body to prevent injuries. It can easily cope up with the strange twists that happens often to skiers. It also helps your body prevent soreness and stiffness during your ski vacation.

A little stretch every time you do some exercise will help increase your flexibility. For beginners, Bell suggests doing calf stretching. He added that hamstring stretches and quad stretching are also important.

Likewise, good balance and coordination are important in helping you improve skiing techniques quickly. Moreover, Bell adds that these assets help skiers stay on their feet and recover from potential wipeout at speed. As an exercise, he suggests to stand on one leg and the other leg trying to write numbers in the air from 1-10.

With all these exercises, your body will surely be ready for your much-awaited ski trip. Happy skiing!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ski Vacation Reflection: The Benefits of hitting the slope

Your excitement intensifies as the first flakes of snow start to pour from the sky and the winter breeze starts to caress your warm body. Finally, your much awaited ski vacation is just around the corner. Your craving for extreme adventure and on the slopes will soon be satisfied.

But there’s more to a ski getaway than just fun and adventure on the snow.  Beyond those things, skiing also provides great health benefits. So here are the benefits that you can get when you go up and down the slopes.

Improves your proprioception

One of the benefits of skiing is it increases your proprioceptive strength. Proprioception is “one's ability to feel the position of different body parts and the effort that goes into moving them.” Since skiing is a proprioceptive activity, it further strengthens your ability to be aware of the movements of your body parts. Proprioception also weakens as we age.  Hence, you can reverse (or slow down) the process by indulging yourself with a ski trip.

Combat the signs of aging

Another benefit of skiing is it slows down the signs of aging. Years of ski trips have prepared your knees and bones for this. Thru skiing, your knees and bones are strengthened, thus lessening your chances of knee injury and bone disorders such as osteoporosis. It’s also a great aerobic activity.

Strengthens your heart

Skiing also improves your cardiovascular system. Skiing helps elevate your heart rate, thus increasing blood circulation, bringing more nutrients and oxygen to your tissues, and helping remove waste from the body more quickly.

Keeps you fit          

Good news to all health buffs there:  Did you know that skiing can help you lose weight as well? A week on the ski can help you as much as 5 pounds!

It also tones your stomach muscles. Achieving balance while skiing is very important, and do you know what muscles are in play when achieving this balance?  Yep, it’s your stomach muscles.  Hence, it’s a fun way to get you bikini ready just in time for summer.  It also helps in stabilizing your spine, protecting it from dangers of getting injury when you fall down while skiing.

Meet new friends

Lastly, skiing also lets you expand your social network. When you go with your friends on a ski trip, not only do you strengthen your camaraderie with them, you are also allowing yourself the chance to get to know more people. You get to interact with and learn from people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds.  Beats staying home and watching TV all day, doesn’t it?

Your ski vacation can give you more than just happy memories on the slopes.  It’s good for your health and well-being, too!  So what are you waiting for?  Get those gears out and embark on a ski adventure.