Taking Diabetes Care Cross Country

For those who live where the four seasons are distinct, and winter is generally blanketed in white, cross-country skiing is an excellent fitness option.

Though many of us were introduced to cross-country, or Nordic skiing by watching top athletes race over mountainous terrain, recreational skiers typically enjoy a slow or moderately paced glide over gentle landscapes, or easily navigated trails.

Cross-Country Benefits

Even moving at slower speeds, Nordic skiing can benefit those with diabetes in several ways:

  • Weight Loss/Maintenance. Cross-country skiing is a major calorie burner. People weighing 150 pounds who ski on flat terrain at a relaxed 2.5 mph pace will burn 400 to 500 calories per hour; those weighing 200 pounds would burn 650 to 675 calories.
  • Muscles and Glucose. With Nordic skiing both the upper and lower body get a workout as we use our own locomotion to move over the snow, and the pulling-pushing action of muscles throughout the body promotes the absorption and utilization of glucose.
  • Heart Health. Aerobic exercise is vital for cardiovascular health, and since no particular muscle group is over-stressed in Nordic skiing it’s an aerobic activity that can be sustained for one, or several hours.
  • Better Balance and Movement. Many muscles not engaged in propelling us across the snow still get a workout by maintaining our balance, and coordinating the body’s movements. Plus, in Nordic skiing the body moves naturally, the way it was designed to, and this helps make everyday tasks easier to perform.
  • Low Impact. Since cross-country skiing is a low-impact sport it may be an activity that those with peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain) can tolerate. The gliding action may even be suitable for some individuals with joint discomfort.
  • Naturally Refreshing. Though all exercise helps us de-stress, cross-country skiing does so in typically tranquil, and often pine-scented settings. Spending time in nature calms and refreshes body and mind, and may give our mood a much needed boost.
  • Social Engagement. Social outings are another way to relieve stress and lift our mood. Children can learn to cross-country ski at a young age making it an activity family and friends can enjoy together.

Small backpacks, waist-packs, or multiple pockets are typically how skiers with diabetes carry their supplies. Meters, insulin, or other items will stay warm carried close to the body, or inside insulated envelopes.

Learn More

Since Nordic skiing requires skis, boots, and poles, there is a financial investment involved, and options should be researched carefully. Many ski centers, golf courses, sporting goods stores, and parks also rent cross-country equipment. Just do an Internet search for: cross-country equipment rental your city and state.

To get a better idea of classic Nordic skiing technique and equipment, you might watch the 10 minute YouTube video called Beginner's Guide to Cross-Country Skiing—a link is provided below.

Naturally, those who have been sedentary, have chronic health conditions, and muscle, back, or joint problems should check with their doctor before hopping on a pair of skis.

Sources: Beginner's Guide to Cross-Country Skiing; Health Fitness Revolution; ThoughtCo
Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

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