As South Africans, we tend to think of sport as something that’s synonymous with summer, and winter is often spent curled up on the couch. Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors and be active. Elsewhere in the world – particularly in the northern hemisphere – winter sports like snowboarding are hugely popular. In recent years, these winter sports have become popular among South Africans who may head to Afriski in Lesotho (operating throughout our wintertime) or to Club Med snow resorts operating throughout the French, Italian, Swiss and Japanese Alps.

If you’re new to snowboarding, you may be surprised at how physically demanding the sport is. As fun as it is to participate in, it also has many health benefits.

The Physical Benefits of Snowboarding

It’s a cardio workout

Snowboarding is an aerobic exercise, so it’s an excellent way of improving your fitness and keeping in shape. It also offers something more enjoyable and inspiring than hitting the gym and burning off calories on the treadmill.

It improves your balance

Standing up and moving on your snowboard requires you to have good balance, which exercises both your brain and your body.

Increased flexibility

Snowboarding involves changing direction and pace using your body, which in turn improves the flexibility of your muscles and joints. Having good flexibility is always a good thing – especially in winter when your joints may be stiffer due to the cold or being more inactive than usual.

It pumps endorphins

Being in the fresh air surrounded by nature is a huge mood enhancer. At the same time, exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that are responsible for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. The combination of the two – exercising while in beautiful surroundings – means that snowboarding is an excellent way to keep a positive outlook and reduce anxiety.

It strengthens your core

While snowboarding uses most muscles in your body (including ones you may not use often like your feet and ankles), it also involves using the core muscles around your midriff. Having a strong core will make you less prone to injury when you participate in other sports, and it will improve your overall physical strength.

It improves self-confidence

Snowboarding involves height and speed – two adrenalin pumping things that can be daunting for many people. Pushing yourself to face these potentially scary elements can be a great way of improving your self-confidence, which benefits all other areas of your life.

The great thing about these physical benefits is that even if you’re not an expert at the sport, these advantages still apply. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to take a few lessons and wear safety gear like a helmet, knee and wrist guards so that you can reduce the risk of injuring yourself while you’re out on the slopes. Whether you’re an advanced snowboarder or not, it’s always a good idea to ensure you are optimally covered by means of health and medical insurance. Some medical schemes, such as Fedhealth, provide cover for people who take part in professional sports and hazardous pursuits within the borders of South Africa.

So, get out there and explore snowboarding. You will be amazed at the benefits it has on your mind, body and spirit. Not only will it have a positive impact on your well-being, but it will also add a bit of adventure to your life.

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