Celebrate the Season with Winter Sports
By: Shauna Rohbock, PCSFN Council Member and Olympic Silver Medalist in Bobsled
Regular physical activity can improve quality of life. You feel and function better when you’re more active! Some of these benefits can be felt directly following the activity, and others are gained with more regular activity over time. The updated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 – 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week for adults, and 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily for children and youth. Participating in sports is a great way to get active and meet the Guidelines.
Finding ways to keep your spirits up can be especially important in the colder months when many people experience the winter blues. Consider checking out some of these sports this winter:
- Bobsled – Bobsled is a winter sport that has been around since the late 1800’s involving teams of two or four athletes. The race begins with a sprint start on ice. Wearing specialized shoes for grip, the athletes accelerate the sled over 50 meters before jumping in. The driver then navigates the sled down a mile of twists and turns using a steering mechanism to control the direction of the sled. The speeds can reach 95 mph and the teams can feel up to 5.5 G’s of force. The races are determined by an aggregate time of two or four heats. The team with the fastest time wins the race.
- Cross Country Skiing – Many people picture the downhill variety when thinking about skiing, but cross country skiing is a great winter recreational activity and sport! Whether you’re checking out local trails/parks or exploring the tracks at a nearby ski resort, cross country skiing is sure to get your heart pumping and muscles burning.
- Sled Hockey – This relatively new, but rapidly growing, sport for people with physical disabilities is very similar to traditional ice hockey, but requires specific equipment. In addition to the bladed sleds that players sit on, players use two sticks that are used for both puck handling and propulsion. Players across the country are enjoying sled hockey in youth, recreational, and professional leagues.
- Broomball – This team sport is played on ice and combines elements of hockey and soccer. Wearing shoes, players run (rather than skate) across the ice, maneuvering a medium-sized ball into the opposing goal using sticks (historically brooms). Although more popular in Canada, Broomball is played on many college campuses and in community recreation leagues throughout the country.
- Snowboarding – Snowboarding is an American sport, originating in the 1960/70s and making it‘s Olympic debut in 1998. Drawing from skiing, surfing, and skateboarding, snowboarding has become an extremely popular winter sport. Snowboarders ride down mountains while standing perpendicular on a board, and without the use of traditional ski poles.
- Ice Skating – One of the most well-known winter sports is ice skating. With a variety of styles from singles or pairs figure skating, ice dancing, synchronized skating, and speed skating this sport offers something for practically anyone’s taste. If you prefer gliding across the ice in a less competitive, simply recreational manner, ice skating is a great way to be active in the winter months either alone, with family, or with a group of friends – so get started skating now!
If winter sports aren’t your thing there are plenty of ways to be active this winter. Remember that snowball fights, shoveling snow, and running/walking in the snow (try snowshoes for something new), all get the heart beating faster than normal. Like all physical activity, “start low and go slow” and choose activities that are appropriate for your level of fitness.
It’s important to prepare for safe activity outdoors in winter weather; be sure to plan ahead and consider ways to avoid falls, hypothermia, and frostbite. If it’s unsafe to get active outdoors - or if you prefer indoor activities - consider options like mall walking, water-based exercise at an indoor swimming pool, or getting the kids active in the house.