People over 50 years who have never skied before would naturally be hesitant to give it a try as skiing might seem too dangerous and a formidable activity to get into at such an age.
But the reality is quite the contrary. You will be surprised to know that a considerable proportion of the people who take beginners’ ski lessons every season are adults over 50 years of age.
While there is no denying that it is best to start skiing at an early age, adults and seniors can try skiing and become good at it too, and their life experience and matured wisdom will give them an edge over the youngsters.
In this ultimate guide, I’ll go over the benefits of skiing for older people and give you some tips for learning to ski after 50. I’ll also talk about some of the things you should take into consideration before you hit the slopes.
Benefits Of Skiing For People Over 50
While the physical and recreational aspects of skiing positively impact the physical and mental well-being of skiers of all ages, these impacts can be more significant for people over 50 years old.
Let’s take a look at some of these rewards:
Better Physical Fitness
Skiing requires the use of muscles, especially the core and leg muscles, joints, hip, knee, and ankle, as well as the heart and the lungs to a great extent. So, it helps to compensate for age-related muscle loss and the reduction of the range of movement of the joints and improves heart and lung functions.
This minimizes the risk of non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke that aged individuals are more vulnerable to and allows them to have good posture and use the full range of their joint movements comfortably in the activities of daily life.
Read more about this here.
Psychological And Emotional Well-Being
Being a vigorous physical activity, skiing can reduce stress and improve the mood of those who engage in it by triggering the release of mood-fixing chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin and inducing better sleep.
It also provides a refreshing change to the noise, the rush, and the hassle of modern-day life with the quiet, snow-covered, breathtakingly beautiful rolling hills and fresh mountain air around the trails.
Improvement Of Cognitive Functions
Brain functions such as memory, perception of speed, distance or depth, and reaction time tend to decay as people age. Vigorous exercises have been proven to improve such cognitive functions.
Skiing, being a vigorous activity, can arguably have a similar effect on a person’s cognition too. So, it is fair to say that an aging individual’s cognitive skills can be improved while taking part in an activity like skiing.
Tips For People Over 50 Aspiring To Be Skiers
Here are a few tips for learning to ski after 40 or 50 years:
Get A Thorough Medical Check-Up Done
Consult a doctor before starting with your new-found interest. You might need to undergo a few medical examination procedures to be declared fit to ski.
Should any health issues be revealed, you might still have a chance of skiing with proper medication, physical conditioning, and adjusting your approach to skiing accordingly. Seek your doctor’s advice every step of the way.
Condition Yourself With A Ski-Specific Exercise Regime
A physical therapist might be best qualified to help you with this with a workout program that trains your muscles and joints and improves your balance, flexibility, and agility to prepare you for the specific challenges of skiing so that you can go about it without getting injured.
The likelihood of age-related changes in those aspects of your physique makes it all the more important to properly condition yourself before starting with your newfound interest.
Get Ski Lessons From A Professional Instructor
Learning the essential basics of skiing from a professional instructor is crucial in ensuring your safety. When you get all basic maneuvers right you are less likely to make mistakes that could cause injury or get frustrated and give up on skiing.
Get The Right Gear
Skis: Do not overlook the importance of using skis designed for newbies that are the right size for your height. You will have a safer and more enjoyable time with a proper pair.
Helmet: Falling at some point while skiing is inevitable. A ski helmet is therefore essential to protect your head when you do. Remember, the consequences of a head injury can be more serious for someone older.
Clothing: Your body’s ability to withstand the elements diminishes as you age. So, get yourself proper clothing, ski boots, and mittens before you go skiing in freezing temperatures.
Goggles: Your vision may not be what it used to be when you were in your prime, so pay special attention to choosing a pair of ski goggles that gives you the best clarity of vision and protects you from snow blindness.
Ski Within Your Limits
Always ensure the terrain difficulty level matches your skill and fitness levels. Always ski on groomed ski trails with inclines you can easily handle.
Pay attention to the trail signs and color codes. Always follow the code of conduct.
Things To Consider If You Are Learning To Ski After 50
There are a lot of things that seniors should take into consideration to ensure their safety and enjoyment when learning to ski.
As someone over 50, your body and mind might not be in the same pristine condition as when you were young.
- You may have lost some muscle mass
- Your bone density might be lower
- Your joints may not have the same range of motion.
- You may be less coordinated in your movements.
- Your reaction time can be longer.
- Your heart and lungs might not be functioning as they used to.
- You might not be able to perceive speed, distance, or depth as well as you did in your prime.
- Your memory may not be as good.
- Your heart, lungs, muscles, and joints must have the structural and functional integrity to endure the tremendous physical exhaustion skiing can cause.
- You would not be able to tolerate extreme weather conditions like a younger person.
All these things can make you more vulnerable to injury during a somewhat-extreme sport like skiing. But it does not mean that you should not try skiing at all. It just means that you should be extra cautious.
If you are 50 or older and thinking about learning to ski, fear and self-doubt are likely to be two significant challenges you will have to overcome.
Doing thorough research about skiing in general and skiing at an older age will make you realize that even though skiing is indeed an extreme physical endeavor, proper preparation, and adherence to established guidelines can make it pretty safe.
You will also see that more and more seniors keep getting into skiing every season. You will also find that many elderly people who started skiing at a similar age have shared their success stories.
Taking group ski lessons with people of similar ages will also help conquer your fear and boost your confidence. Plus, you can use online forums to discuss your concerns and doubts as well.
Skiing with a group of people with varying skill levels will also be a good idea in the sense that you wouldn’t feel inadequate by constantly comparing yourself with more able skiers.
The bottom line is don’t let your age stop you from enjoying this great sport that has the potential to make you stronger, healthier, and happier. Do your research, talk to your doctor, condition yourself, get your gear, take your lessons, and go have a blast!