Learning to ski over the age of 50 isn’t just fun and games.
Learning a new sport in midlife improves your mind, body and spirit. Do you want to get out of a rut after age 50? Learn a new sport or take up an old favorite.
I chose skiing because I moved to Park City, Utah – a ski resort town. Years ago because we DIDN’T ski, my husband and I had purchased a condo in Utah. As a financial planning move, we rented the condo in the winter and used it in the summer.
When the kids moved out, we decided to flee the empty nest. Learning to downhill ski was a priority moving to a winter wonderland. The locals told me to participate in a winter sport or the cold snowy winters would be difficult. Who wants to be cooped up all day?
Learning to ski at age 50 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If you have a sport you’ve always wanted to pick up, don’t wait. Get started today.
Here are nine benefits of learning to ski (or any new sport) over age 50:
Get in better physical shape
The benefits of physical exercise are widely known. Being physically active can help to prevent illness.
There are other benefits, too. According to Real Health Benefits: A Review with Insight into the Public Health of Sweden, older adults who participated in sports had a higher level of physical activity and “through sport, developed a greater knowledge of nutrition, exercise and health.”
In my case, since I love to ski, I go more often and I stay out longer. In fact, my inner child wants to keep skiing but my tired legs need to head back to the lodge after a few hours. Seriously, when I compare a treadmill workout vs. skiing? Skiing will win every time.
As a result of doing a sport I like, I get more exercise.
Have a reason to train
Skiing is a very physically taxing sport especially for beginners. To traverse from one lift to another, you use your upper body pushing on ski poles. Your thighs are burning from crouching and making turns. It’s a challenge.
To prep for ski season, you need to develop a good base of physical fitness. This means you work out in the off season to prepare for the ski season. Now you are motivated to get your cardio and strength workouts in.
No excuses needed because you are training for a sport you love.
Exercise your brain
There are mental benefits of exercise. According to Harvard Health, “exercise stimulates the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells”.
Obviously learning something new is good for the brain. A new sport is mentally challenging especially skiing since it’s counterintuitive. In my first ski lesson, I learned you are actually more in control when you lean downhill. Learning to navigate turns on skis is a complex mental challenge.
Learning a new sport can help with brain health.
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Make memories with family
Skiing is family friendly. One of the reasons my husband and I moved to Park City was to be a “magnet” for family and friends to visit. We wanted our family members to want to come out and PLAY! Learning a new sport is a way to interact with your family in a different way – play together.
One of my favorite experiences was skiing with my son Rick to show off my ski skills. On the first run, I skied up to him, executed a “hockey stop” and sprayed him with snow. And the game began. It’s fun to get out and play with our adult children and their spouses.
Skiing with grandchildren is so much more enjoyable than sitting in the lodge waiting. My granddaughter will always remember my husband and me being out there WITH her and having a chance to watch her ski.
Learning a new sport tells your family that you are still “in the game” and not sitting on the sidelines.
Make new friends learning to ski
The chairlift provides opportunities to visit with friends in between runs. The lodge is a great place to stop for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Apres ski is perfect for having a beverage and a light snack while relaxing and discussing the ski day.
Our neighborhood started a group we call the Riverview Ski Team. It started as a parody because we were barely intermediates and wouldn’t have qualified for an actual Master’s ski team.
The concept grew and now neighbors and friends have a text list. Anytime you want to ski, you just put it out there on the text list – where you ski, what level and when. Ninety percent of the time, you’ll find someone to go with you.
Get your Vitamin D out on the slopes
A vitamin D deficiency is no joke. According to the National Institute of Health upwards of 40% of Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of this vitamin can be associated with serious illness such as cancer, osteoporosis, depression, muscle weakness and even, death.
The good news is we can eat salmon, egg yolks and take cod liver oil supplements to supply us with vitamin D.
We can also go outside and play in the sunshine. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and walking the dog can help you get some vitamin D.
Obviously, there are dangers of getting too much sun exposure but research shows that some exposure can be helpful. Talk with your doctor for a personalized opinion on your health care.
Commune with nature on the ski run
Being in nature is associated with an increase in a positive mood, psychological well being, meaningfulness and vitality according to research.
I am in. You had me at “positive mood.”
In other words, being in nature makes you happy. Let’s all get out and play more.
Look forward to something
Life can be challenging with it’s ups and downs. Having something to look forward to can actually improve our general happiness in life. We can savor our future experiences as we make plans and imagine experiencing them.
In fact, Journal of Experimental Psychology researchers in a 2007 study found that anticipation of an event creates intense emotion. Looking forward to something is even more powerful than remembering past events.
For years, I’ve kept a journal and two entries I make are: three things I am grateful for and one thing I am looking forward to. Skiing makes both lists.
Find your inner winter fashionista
Even TomBoys like me love to look fashionable when skiing. When I first started skiing in Utah, I bought a jacket at a ski swap for my sons to use.
Guess who wore it? Me. I was thinking “warmth” not fashion. It showed.
My girlfriends showed up with brightly colored ski jackets and matching ski pants. I looked down at myself in my oversized men’s black jacket, black ski pants and a beat up helmet with stickers on it. I laughed at how ridiculous I looked.
It was time to up my winter fashion game. Since then I’ve picked up a silver Obermeyer jacket with faux fur on the hood, a purple Patagonia jacket with coordinating pink ski pants and a lime green Mountain Hardwear jacket that goes with everything.
My inner child loves to wear bright ski clothes with new fabrics that keep me warm and dry while looking fabulous.
Whatever your reasons learning to ski over age 50, remember that life begins at 50.
Well, actually life begins today – every single morning brings with it a new opportunity to up your game.
So pick a sport. Get out there, be safe,and have some fun.
Your future self and your inner child are calling.