This past week my wife and I have been lucky enough to go on a ski trip with our children and her parents. Skiing is a great way to spend the day outside as a family while being active. It sets a great example for our children, showing them how to be active while having fun.
As kids learn to ski they are working their balancing and proprioceptive muscles without trying to. It has taken some work to get my children to the point where they are having fun skiing, but now it is a blast to spend the day with them while they tear down a hill. By the end of the day, everyone is tired and worn out, but it is a great feeling. Relaxing vacations have their place, but it is also nice to go on an active vacation, and you still come back refreshed.
The skills children learn while skiing will translate into other areas of their life. The balance they learn easily translates to ice skating, and biking. And the reaction time and dexterity learned from going down a hill translate into improved eye-hand co-ordination. This all happens without the children even thinking about it, and makes it easy for them to improve on.
On these trips my wife and I always take a day while the kids are in ski school and go for a snowshoe hike in the mountains. It is so nice to get away from the resorts and into the wilderness. It is peaceful and quiet and beautiful. And it is a great workout. Snowshoeing is technically very easy, but physically very tough. Meaning that all you do is strap on a set of snowshoes (they are reminiscent of tennis rackets strapped to your feet that you see in old cartoons) and hike. They help you get traction and not sink into the snow. But it is tough. While going up hill, you can burn up to 1000 calories and hour. But you can walk anywhere there is snow with them. I have walked on top 4 feet of snow very comfortably with them, without sinking in.
Another advantage of hiking in the mountains is breathing in the fresh air. In cities there is a lot of air pollution. While exercising in cities you can’t help but to breath in some of that pollution deeply into your lungs. Studies do show that you are doing more benefit then damage while exercising in cities. But doing cardio-vascular exercise in the moutains, you are breathing in fresh oxygen deeply into your lungs, which I feel can help clear out some of the junk that can accumulate in your lungs. It is like cleaning out a filter. All of that fresh oxygen does a lot of good for your body, and makes you feel really good.
After hiking in the mountains I always feel refreshed mentally, and tired physically. After a long hike, endorphins are released, giving you a nice, relaxing feeling. It is one of the best feelings; and what a feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention how many calories you’ll burn doing something active. And that’ll prevent you from putting 1 to 2 pounds a year that most people do, which accumulates over time; the more the weight accumulates, the harder it is to get rid of over the years. One of the best advantages of being active is eating a nice big dinner afterwards, guilt free. Because you have earned it.
So get out there and exercise, it does so much for you mentally and physically. You’ll reap the benefits for days, weeks, even months to come.