Physical fitness can be defined as the capability of
the heart, lungs, blood vessels, joints and muscles to function efficiently.
We’ll start by looking at fitness of the Cardio-respiratory system – the efficiency
of the heart and lungs in their ability to transport oxygen and fuel to the
muscles and then remove any waste products.
In some ways, skiing is an odd sport because the more accomplished you
become, the easier it is to get away with having a lower level of
cardio-respiratory fitness. So, while competent skiers may seldom exert
themselves enough to get out of breath, the same is not true for complete
beginners, who spend much more time walking up the slope to begin with.
Of course, the fact that more experienced skiers can often get away with
poor cardio-respiratory fitness does not mean that they should ignore this
aspect of their conditioning.
For one thing, the effects of altitude mean that the
heart has to work increasingly harder to keep the body supplied with oxygen.
On the highest glacier skiing in Europe, an altitude of 3,840 metres,
your heart will be working 61% harder than at sea level!
Secondly, a good level of cardio-respiratory fitness reduces the time taken
to recover from bouts of strenuous exercise, so that after a hike up a
ridge, skiers are more quickly ready to make their the descent.
For the majority of recreational skiers, the best way to develop
cardio-respiratory fitness is with prolonged bouts of moderate activity,
such as running, cycling or swimming, with each session lasting at least
20 minutes. Roller-blading is also a good skiing fitness training activity as it
uses similar muscles to skiing and is great for developing your balance.