Every winter, on average, ski patrollers are called to 50,000 accidents and many of these injuries happen because skiers aren’t physically prepared for the slopes.
If you’ve read our previous article about the benefits of skiing for your body and have already booked your winter holiday, that’s great! You still have a few months to assess your health and get in shape before packing your bags.
Try our cardio, flexibility, and strength tests to determine if you’re fit enough to go skiing this winter safely.
Today’s lifestyle can be sedentary and unhealthy
The typical urban lifestyle today has several characteristics that may not be conducive to being in good physical condition for skiing.
A sedentary lifestyle
Many people lead sedentary lifestyles, spending long hours in front of screens (computers, televisions, smartphones) for work, study or leisure. This can lead to muscle weakness and reduced stamina, which can make it difficult to take part in intense physical activities such as skiing.
Lack of regular exercise
Lack of regular exercise is a common factor in modern society. People often have busy schedules, which limits their time for exercise. Without regular physical activity, fitness can deteriorate, which can make skiing more physically demanding.
An unbalanced diet
Modern eating habits can be rich in processed foods that are low in essential nutrients. Fast food, ready meals, sugary drinks, snacking… an inadequate diet can be detrimental to your health and physical fitness, which can affect your ability to ski.
High levels of stress
Chronic stress is a common part of everyday life and can also impact your physical health. Stress can affect sleep, digestion and recovery, which makes it difficult to maintain a good physical condition.
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How to assess your physical condition
Some people are often quick to overestimate their physical condition, and others underestimate the impact that fitness can have on the overall skiing experience.
Signs that you need to improve your fitness
Certain physical and physiological signs indicate a lack of physical fitness.
- Rapid shortness of breath: Light physical activity, such as climbing stairs or walking quickly, causes shortness of breath, suggesting that cardiorespiratory endurance is not at the level required for skiing;
- A feeling of muscle weakness: Weak muscles cause pain or difficulty in performing simple movements, such as carrying heavy objects or performing muscle-strengthening exercises;
- Lack of flexibility: Poor flexibility, stiff joints and difficulty stretching limit your mobility and make movement on the ski slopes more difficult;
- Lack of balance and coordination: Difficulty maintaining balance in unstable positions or performing coordinated movements may mean you could struggle when skiing;
- Constant lethargy: A feeling of permanent tiredness, even after sufficient periods of rest, might be a sign that your stamina and physical condition could be improved;
- Frequent muscular and joint pains: These may indicate a lack of muscular strength and stability, which can affect your ability to ski without risk of injury.
- Difficulty concentrating: Poor physical condition can lead to reduced concentration and responsiveness, which can be problematic and even dangerous when you need to react quickly on the ski slopes.
Test your fitness before you go skiing
Here’s a range of tests you can carry out in the comfort of your own home, to assess your physical condition.
Cardiorespiratory endurance test
- Time how long it takes you to walk briskly for 1.5km.
Muscle strength tests
- The plank test: The plank is an excellent exercise for assessing the upper body and trunk, as well as stabilising muscle strength. It is performed by trying to hold yourself in a plank position, leaning on your forearms and toes, for as long as possible.
- A beginner should be able to hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds without much difficulty;
- Intermediates should be able to hold the position for 45 seconds to 1 minute;
- Advanced athletes should be able to hold the position for more than a minute and 30 seconds.
- The squat test (bending the legs):
- A beginner should be able to perform at least 10 to 15 full squats in one minute;
- An intermediate, around 20 to 30 full squats in one minute;
- A good athlete should be able to do 30 or more.
- Hamstring stretch test: The exercise consists of sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you, trying to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight.
Balance and coordination test
- Stand on one leg for 30 seconds to a minute without wobbling. Repeat the exercise with the other leg and note any difficulties.
Assess your level of fatigue
- Self-assess energy on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being totally exhausted and 10 being full of energy. Note the general level of energy during the day and after physical activities.
Assess muscle and joint pain
- Note whether muscle or joint pain occurs frequently, especially after specific physical activities. Assess the intensity and frequency of the pain.
Test your concentration level
- Try counting backwards from 100, subtracting 7 at each stage (100, 93, 86, etc) and stay fully focused on the task at hand.
There is no “fail” mark for these tests, as it will depend on personal goals, age, gender and current fitness levels. The important thing is to record your initial performance and then monitor your progress over time.
If you are able to achieve the times or number of repetitions suggested for a level, this can be a good indicator of reasonable muscular strength. If you find that you’re nowhere near the level mentioned or you’re not seeing any improvement despite your efforts, this could be a sign that you need to concentrate more on strength training in your preparation for skiing.
Naturally, if you have any concerns or need a personalised follow-up, it’s important to consult a health professional or sports coach.
Good physical condition is essential if you want to ski safely and enjoy all the benefits of a mountain getaway.
Now that you’ve assessed your health, refer to our next article: How to Get in Shape for Skiing. There, you’ll find precise and detailed workout schedules to turn your weaknesses into strengths and your strengths into exceptional powers.
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