Winter and snowfall bring with them a sense of peace and tranquil. It can be a lot of fun to keep a calm mind in activities that are physically invigorating. Winter sports not only help keep you warm but also endow innumerable health benefits to the body by strengthening muscles and keeping up its agility. Both of these tend to drop with temperature.  While you take up these winter sports be sure to keep to safe terrain, wear ample warm clothing and carry enough safety gear to prevent untoward injuries. So get out your stowed away winter gear and let the snow bring out that hidden talent in you!
Some beckoning winter sports this season are:
1. Cross Country Skiing:
A favorite winter activity involving gliding over snow covered terrains with ski blades and poles. In this sport, the skier propels himself forward using the weight of his entire body. The act of propulsion using ski poles is a great exercise for the muscles of the arms, back, abdomen, pelvis and legs. The added benefit is that this activity involves no shocks to the knees and serves as a great cardiovascular workout. The resting heart rate of a regular cross country skier is usually 40 – 50 beats per minute; very beneficial to the heart! An hour of this activity can burn around 450 to 700 calories. Just go cross country skiing to get back into shape before spring arrives!
2. Downhill Skiing:
This activity involves sliding down snow covered hills on skis with the help of ski poles. Downhill skiing requires the skier to crouch, bend knees and keep his feet together as he lets gravity do most of the work. This position works tremendously on toning the glutes (buttock muscles), hamstrings (thigh muscles) and the large muscles of the legs and feet. In order to slide down the mountain slopes, the stance required improves balance and flexibility of the body. An hour of downhill skiing can burn up to 600 calories. So while you slide down the mountain, you are sure to find the digits on your scale sliding down too!
Descending down a snow covered slope atop a snowboard attached to one’s feet is the perfect sport for those who thrive on speed and thrill. It needs immense focus. Sliding down the slope requires balancing yourself and watching out for the changes in the snow while you dodge hurdles. This balance helps develop cardiovascular endurance and the ability to concentrate.  The act of balancing the body strengthens the core muscles of the abdomen and back along with the muscles of the thighs, legs, and feet. An hour of snowboarding helps burn a whopping 450 – 600 calories.
4. Ice Skating:
There is a reason ice rinks are teeming with people in winter. Although ice skating is pursued as an activity indoors it can be very well done on real snow covered lakes and rivers in the winter. This activity involves the arms, shoulders, legs and feet to balance and move. The weight of the body needs to be moved from one leg to another which strengthens the hip joints, knees, ankles, and feet. The muscles of the upper body and legs get toned along with a great cardiovascular workout. Slow skating burns up to 380 calories while fast skating can burn up to 630 calories an hour. Just make sure to keep to safe lakes and rivers. If you love dancing, then figure skating is right up your alley! So, if you have wobbly knees ice skate before it’s too late!
5. Ice Hockey:
Ice hockey is a sport wherein two rival teams use ice skates and wooden sticks to slide a rubber puck into the opponent team’s net to score points. The constant pacing and frequent change in direction and speed tends to strengthen the core muscles, the hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles. The short bursts of energy needed to shoot the puck into the net tone the cardiovascular system and increase the flexibility and agility of the body. Besides, the team work enhances communication skills and concentration. A session of just 45 minutes of ice hockey can burn up to 500 calories. If you are bored to exercise alone, pick up an ice hockey stick and watch the pounds dip!
Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD
- www.healthline.com › Fitness & Exercise