Cross-country skiing: 10 good reasons for practising it

A snow-covered road that is lost among the trees, silence broken only by the noise of your breath and skis on frozen snow, clear air like crystal: cross-country skiing, an experience immersed in nature.
Cross-country skiing is this and much more, it is a complete sport within everyone's reach: there are at least 10 good reasons to start practicing this sport.

Why choose cross-country skiing?

1. It's good for health. Cross-country skiing is a powerful cardio activity, of those that are good for the heart, oxygenate the blood and ensure the maintenance of cardiovascular health.

2. It’s a great calorie burner. Cross-country skiing is the most "aerobic" discipline among outdoor sports. A statement confirmed by several physiologists and technical trainers, because the coordinated use of arms and legs makes Nordic skiing a sport with a very high calorie consumption.
There is no comparable sport in terms of energy consumption and calories. It is true that the calculation of calories depends on many factors such as weight, age, basal metabolism and more, but 1 hour of cross-country skiing can easily burn more than 1000 calories.

3. It is an excellent anti-stress activity. Being in nature is therapeutic in the true sense of the word. Think about practice of Shinrin-yoku, the traditional and widespread ‘forest bathing' of the Japanese: it has been shown that those who devote themselves to this practice report lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), a reduction in heartbeats and a decrease in blood pressure.

4. It's safer. Compared to alpine skiing and snowboarding, the risk of trauma is considerably lower. Obviously also in this sport there is the possibility of incurring some injuries, especially with regard to tendons and ankles, the parts of the body mainly at risk. As always, we recommend good athletic training and a short warm-up before starting: these measures avoid the risk of injury.

5. It's a complete sport. Cross-country skiing involves all the most important muscular districts, making both the upper and lower parts of the body work.
Cross-country skiing is an excellent form of cross-training, i. e. the kind of activities to be practiced in a season, in this case in winter, to get prepared for other activities in other seasons, such as cycling in spring, or even running.

6. It is a varied sport. Cross-country skiing trails are immersed in changing natural landscapes, there is no ring or slope equal to each other because the territory is always different.
We can choose between two different techniques the one that suits our case: the skating or the alternating (or classic) pitch.

7. It's social. The beauty of this sport is that it can also be practised in company. The nature of the trails, the slower nature of this discipline compared to alpine skiing allow you to share the experience with other people.There are also cross-country ski rings open to our four-legged animal friends.

8. It is accessible to everyone. On the cross-country rings next to men and women over 60 years old, there are many young people who train; mums and dads with their children, professional sportsmen and even visually impaired people with their own guides. In short, cross-country skiing is for everyone.
Regardless of style, we can practice it independently from the very first outings because learning cross-country skiing is much simpler than Alpine skiing. Once you have acquired the basics of technology, there is no need to be a professional to have fun. To improve more quickly, we recommend you take one or two lessons with a teacher.

9. It is a "comfortable" sport. Let us forget the torment caused by heavy ski boots or helmet. Few sports activities can boast equipment that is even less expensive than cross-country skiing.
Breathable clothing, shoes, skis and poles: the game is done.

10. It is economic. Cross-country skiing is much cheaper than downhill skiing, and the daily price is well below that of downhill skiing: between 8 and 12 euros per day for adults. Without the cost of the ski pass, the cost drops considerably. The same applies to equipment, whether it is rented or purchased.

How to start cross-country skiing

We often make the mistake of thinking that competitive products are the best: on the contrary, they are the least suitable to get started. In approaching cross-country skiing, therefore, we must discard the equipment of the Racing and Performance categories, and choose skis within the Sport typology: they are wider and more stable, ideal for beginners.

The equipment

The characteristics of cross-country skis vary according to the technique: for the classic one we will have skis slightly longer than those used for skating. This is what determines the lowering of the bridge (the arc that forms between the ground and the ski at the height of the linkage) and leads to a change in the hardness of the ski.
For what concerns sticks, their size is calculated by multiplying their height by 0.84 in the classical technique and 0.88 in the free technique. As a guideline they should come under the chin in classical technique, and at the tip of the nose in skating.
There are two bottom shoe models: classic and skating. The former are light, flexible at the tip and low at the height of the malleolus, while the latter are more like boots with stiff soles and support on the entire ankle. Here too, it is good to opt for models of smaller categories, which are undoubtedly more comfortable and suitable for beginners.
As far as clothing is concerned, it should be used something which blocks the wind allowing the skin to breathe. Another recommended type of fabric is a thermal tissue that keeps the body warm and dry while allowing the skin to breathe. The hands should always be protected with gloves, while to protect the legs it is great to use technical fuseaux, which are very comfortable, light, and leave a great freedom of movement.

How to train for cross-country skiing

We have said that the basic technique is acquired rather quickly, already with a couple of lessons. Physical preparation, however, should not be neglected even if we are not professional athletes, indeed a fortiori.
Below are some suggestions to prepare for this sport.
The cross trainer is probably the cardiovascular tool that most mimics cross-country skiing movements. Using a cross trainer, we will then learn how to move around as this sport requires and, at the same time, we will do an excellent cardio training that will improve our lung capacity and endurance.
HIIT (High intensity interval training) on the cross-trainer is the solution for maximizing results. Use the cross trainer as fast as possible for two minutes with a high resistance, then pause for two minutes. Repeat this sequence ten times.
Cardiovascular endurance is a fundamental requirement for cross-country skiing, at least if you want to cover certain distances. You can train this type of endurance on a treadmill running for long periods of time at a low heart rate.
Training the core is very important in all sports. Having a trained core means preventing injuries and more resistance. It is particularly important for cross-country skiing. The abdominal and lumbar belt, in fact, must be suitably reinforced to provide power to the peripheral sectors such as legs and arms, which are fundamental in the thrust on skis.

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