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Winter is coming and while many of us look forward to comfy sweaters, hot chocolate, and fire places, the winter season is also a great time to maintain your fitness with a variety of fun winter activities. But are you ready? Gently sliding down the slopes on your skis or snowboard may seem easy, but for your body it is one heck of a workout. The same goes for snow shoeing and skating. The reason why your legs start to burn and your muscles ache at the end of a day on the slopes is because you are performing movements that you haven’t done since last winter. Just like going to the gym for the first time in six months, your body needs to get used to exercising again. The good news is that the start of your season doesn’t have to be filled with sore muscles and aching joints. Kick-start your season by doing a workout and help prepare your body for the rigours of winter activity.
Here are TEN exercises that you can do now to prepare yourself to perform better when you get outside:

  1. Wall Squats (for endurance)

3 sets of 30-45 seconds

  1. Single Leg Bridge (for glute strength)

4 sets of 30-45 seconds (2 sets Right leg / 2 sets Left leg)

  1. Hip Openers (for hip mobility)

4 sets of 30-45 seconds (2 sets stepping to Right / 2 sets stepping to Left)

  1. 3 – Point Squat (for dynamic leg strength)

3 sets of 30 – 45 seconds

  1. Lunge w/ Rotation (for dynamic balance and core strength)

4 sets of 30 – 45 seconds (2 sets Right leg / 2 sets Left leg)

  1. Plank (for core strength)

3 sets of 30-45 second holds

  1. Lateral Hops (for lateral strength)

3 sets of 30-45 seconds

  1. Square Hops (for agility)

3 sets of 30-45 seconds

  1. Hand Walks (for upper body strength)

3 sets of 30-45 seconds (do as many as you can)

  1. I – Y – T arm raises (Rotator cuff mobility and strength)

3 sets of 30-45 seconds, 1 set each of I or Y or T pattern (do as many as you can)

We have all come to accept that falling is part of winter in Canada; and a reminder for many of us that we are not all X-Games athletes comes with the first fall on the slopes. According to data collected by the International Society for Skiing Safety, snow sports in general have an injury rate of 2-3 injuries per 1000 participants (meaning at least one person will be hurt every day on the mountains). Most of these injuries are non-serious involving sprains of the wrist, shoulder, and knee joints but can also be head injuries. Snow sport injury rate is quite low considering the injury rate for a typical soccer game is also 2-3 injuries but for a much smaller number of participants. But many of the injuries we incur while participating in snow sports can be prevented!
Following some simple rules can help us all avoid injury and have a great winter season:

  1. Always warm up: Warming up sends signals from your brain to your body to prepare for physical activity. A quick dynamic warm up will open your body’s blood vessels and deliver oxygen and nutrients to our muscles and also helps to lubricate your joints.


  1. Always cool down and stretch: Walking around for a few minutes helps the body to re-circulate blood away from the muscles lessening the damaging effects of lactic acid. Stretching after activity also helps to align the muscles and reduce the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness.


  1. Accept your body’s limits: You may not be able to perform at the same level as you did when you were a teenager or young adult. Knowing what you can and can’t do any more will help you avoid over exertion and a lot of muscles pulls and strains.


  1. Don’t be a weekend warrior: Spread your physical activity out through the week instead of packing it all into the weekend when possible.


  1. Be safe: We may not have the co-ordination or skill to pull of the same moves the pros do. Wearing helmets, pads and guards designed to protect your body will greatly reduce the chance of injury.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to stop being active… Prepare yourself for the winter season, use the appropriate gear, and get outside and have fun!