Cross Country Skiing Basics
Downhill skiing may give you a rush, but go with cross country skiing if you want the real workout. Cross country skiing, which is also known as X-C skiing and Nordic skiing, is considered by some as the top aerobic exercise. Throw in beautiful winter settings and what could beat it?
Cross country skiing isn’t complicated either. After one or two lessons, most beginners are ready to go. (If you’re really coordinated you can probably just strap on the skis and go.) Your boots are secured onto the skis by bindings that allow your heel to lift up off the ski. The result: a glorious gliding walk over winter landscapes.
So when you’re feeling like you’ve got to get out and do something in the middle of winter, why not give cross country skiing a go? If you crave it during the warmer months, you can always seek out a cross country ski simulator. It takes a bit to get the hang of the movement, but many who stick with it long enough to master the technique swear by it.
Upside of Cross Country Skiing
- Often referred to as the #1 aerobic exercise, cross-country skiing is a low risk, fun, full body workout that improves your cardiovascular conditioning and burns a huge amount of calories.
- A day of skiing won’t break the bank: equipment rental, a lesson, and a trail pass will come to about $35.
- While warm clothing is required, you don’t have to overdo it. You’ll be burning so many calories you are likely to stay warm wearing just a few layers.
Downside of Cross Country Skiing
- You’re dependent on Mother Nature for the right skiing conditions – no snow, no workout.
- If you don’t like the cold, this is definitely not the sport for you.
- Once you are ready to buy your own equipment, prices can range dramatically.
- When not on groomed trails, you may encounter obstacles, such as trees and rocks.
- Falling in love with the sport may have you wishing for snow in July.
Is Cross Country Skiing for You?
This chart can help you see how cross country skiing fits your goals and lifestyle concerns.
|Body Parts Worked||Full body|
|Calories Burned||A 150-pound person will burn about 540 calories an hour, a 200-pound person will burn about 725|
|Gear||Skis, boots, poles, warm clothes|
|Location||Nearly anywhere with snow|
|Time||20 minutes to an entire day (with breaks)|
|Schedule/Flexibility||Limited by presence of snow|
Cross Country Skiing Tips
- Be sure to wear a hat, mittens and warm socks.
- For comfort and safety, layer your clothing. Three thin layers of clothing allow you to move more freely than one bulky layer, and you can always remove clothing as you get warmer.
- Beginners should start with “waxfree” skis. These are ready to go, but slower than skis meant for more experienced cross country skiers.
- Cross country skiing machines in gyms provide a good workout, but learning how to control the machine is actually a lot harder than learning the real thing.
Liz Neporent, MA on Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing is one of the top aerobic workouts you can do. Like other cardio workouts, you’ll strengthen your heart and lungs, burn fat and calories and build your stamina.
If you’re looking to lose weight and want to get out of the house during the winter, this workout will do it. Even though it’s cold outside, the calories you burn as you ski will keep you warm.
When first starting, be sure to get lessons or go with someone who has experience and stick to groomed trails. Cross country skiing is a safe workout, but this will make it even more so while you’re still learning the ropes. As you get more experienced, you’ll be able to get out and try new areas. Experiment with up and down hills and more challenging territory. You may also want to try cross country skiing’s close cousin, snow shoeing, too.
Healthlinerx on Cross Country Skiing
“This is a very relaxing, soul-finding exercise. There is nothing like being out enjoying nature and not realizing that you are exercising at the same time. My husband and I love it! It’s a great bonding experience for everyone in the family.”