Were you the kid on the toboggan hill who ALWAYS wanted to go faster? Do you pray for more snow while grumbling about shovelling the driveway? Do you have trouble hearing your wife in the next room, but can hear “Braaaaaap!” from miles away? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a good chance you’re into snowmobiling (aka sledding).
Ripping around on snowmobiles is a tonne o’ fun, for sure, but did you know that it can help you get fit and boost your mental game? Here’s how:
Out for a rip, and a workout!
If you’ve ever had to dig a sled out of deep snow, or dragged one across the pavement at a gas station, you already know that a day on the trails gets your heart rate up and works your muscles. Recent research shows that simply speeding down a groomed trail is considered “moderate-intensity physical activity” that uses more than five times as much energy as sitting and watching TV, and about the same amount of energy used while downhill skiing or snow shovelling. Hill-climbing on a snowmobile, meanwhile, can deliver an even more intense workout.
Since getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week is one of the best ways to stay healthy, snowmobiling can be an easy and fun way to hit this target. And if there’s a beer at the end of the ride, all the better!
Pre-season and mid-season prep
You can be a better sledder, reduce the risk of injury, and enjoy trail-time more by prepping your body for the coming season and keeping it toned during the winter months. Firm up the muscles that get the most use while sledding by doing these easy equipment-free exercises:
How to strengthen your LEGS with WALL SQUATS
- Step 1: Stand straight with your back up against the wall.
- Step 2: Slowly lower your body until your knees are bent at 90 degrees.
- Step 3: Hold for at least 15 seconds. The longer you hold, the more intense the wall squat becomes.
- Step 4: Slowly return to standing straight up. Repeat 5-10 times.
How to strengthen your ABS with THE PLANK
- Step 1: Start on all fours. Line up your shoulders directly over your hands and your hips directly over your knees. Then, extend your legs and drop down onto your forearms.
- Step 2: Align your shoulders with your elbows and bring your body into one straight line. Be careful not to let your hips sink by activating your core.
- Step 3: You are now in the plank position and hold for as long as you can. Start with five full breaths and go from there. There are no “reps” with the plank. The longer you hold it, the better the ab workout.
How to strengthen your back with THE SUPERMAN
- Step 1: It’s a bird, it’s a plane … nope, it’s just you, face-down on the floor with your arms and legs fully extended.
- Step 2: Lift your arms, chest and legs off the floor for two seconds at a time. This really works your lower back, so focus on squeezing those muscles for the best results.
- Step 3: Slowly lower your arms, legs and chest back to a resting position and repeat 5-10 times.
How to strengthen your arms (and chest) with PUSH-UPS
- Step 1: Place both hands on the floor just past shoulder width, and assume the “plank” position with your arms, legs and back straight, arms slightly bent but not locked, and your toes supporting your lower body.
- Step 2: Keeping your entire body straight, lower your chest until it lightly touches the floor.
- Step 3: Pause, exhale, and push back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Snow, sun and smiles
There’s more to sledding that blowing past your buddy (although that is pretty damn satisfying). The awesome combination of physical activity and spending time with your buds in the great outdoors can have a positive effect on your mental game, especially in winter, when it can be tempting to hole up like a hibernating grizzly.
The research we just mentioned backs this up, adding that sunny sledding can help combat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is thought to be caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight, and can make you feel down and out.
In other words, getting some sun on your face while blowing past your buddy is a real win-win situation. “See ya, slowpoke!”
Where’s the best place you’ve ever gone sledding? Share your favourite snowmobile trails in the comments below!
This article is made possible by the support of generous sponsors.
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.