Focus on Fitness: Ski and swim this winter |

Focus on Fitness: Ski and swim this winter

If you’re anything like me, when ski season arrives, you’re in excellent condition. The summer months lend themselves to lots of running, biking, swimming and hiking, all of which work the cardiovascular system. But when the days are short and the weather is cold, I find that all I do is downhill ski.

Alpine skiing is an anaerobic sport. It only takes a short burst of energy, two or three minutes, to bomb down a ski run, followed by a rest on the chairlift ride to the top. This is why it is easy to ski from open to close, whereas in running or swimming — both aerobic sports — we typically can only sustain the activity for 30 to 90 minutes.

Although skiing is considered an anaerobic sport, aerobic exercise certainly will increase your skiing ability.

One of the major benefits of aerobic exercise is increased endurance. During aerobic exercise, your heart and lungs learn to deliver oxygen to muscles more efficiently, leading to longer time on the slopes. When it’s an epic pow day, you’ll definitely want to be able to take as many runs as possible.

A great option to keep up on your aerobic activity during the winter is to swim.

Swimming is a low-impact sport, which provides an excellent contrast to the high-impact sport of skiing. Your body can complete a swimming workout even after a full day of skiing because swimming doesn’t produce the same wear and tear on your muscles and joints that skiing does. Instead, swimming will work your heart and lungs, improving your cardiovascular strength.

Here are two tips to help you stick to your goal of continuing to exercise throughout the winter.

1. Write it down. First, decide how many days per week you would like to exercise and for how long. Then take out your calendar and write in your workouts from now until April. Stick to your schedule for three weeks. After that, working out will seem like part of the daily routine instead of something extra you have to fit in.

2. Put on your outfit. We all have days when we just don’t feel like working out. For me, if it’s one of those days I really don’t want to get in the pool, I tell myself that I’ll just put on my swim suit and then if I still really don’t feel like swimming, I’ll skip it. I don’t think I can ever remember a time when I put on my suit and didn’t get in the pool. Sometimes just wearing your workout clothes is enough to get you motivated.

And the best part about swimming as your workout in the winter? A well-deserved soak in the Heart Spring afterward.

Valerie Powell is the swim lesson coordinator at Old Town Hot Springs, assistant Alpine coach at Steamboat Springs High School and competition services administrator at Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

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