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Shape Up for Ski Season

Preparing for the upcoming ski season requires more than waxing your boards and buying flashy new gear.

Proper physical conditioning is essential if you want to avoid spending part or all of your winter at home nursing an injury.

Don't wait until those first few snowflakes flutter through the sky to begin the musculoskeletal tune-up that will prepare your body for the rigors of downhill skiing. Start your conditioning program at least a few months before you hit the slopes.

Cardiovascular fitness is a good place to start, and it can be achieved through regular endurance exercise. That means low to moderate levels of exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, cycling and step exercising, according to the Massachusetts Governor's Committee on Physical Fitness.

Muscle conditioning is essential because of the intense demands placed on your body during downhill skiing. The muscles most affected by skiing are the quadriceps, hamstring and gluteal muscles in your legs, along with the oblique muscles of your midsection, according to the committee.

Bicycle exercise builds strength and endurance in your quadriceps; you should also do hamstring curls. Leg-press machines or squats help develop power and strength in your lower extremities. Sit-ups, crunches and back extensions strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, according to the University of Arizona.

Flexibility, balance, agility and coordination are other areas you should work on before ski season starts. Tennis, squash and other racquet sports help develop coordination skills, and soccer calls upon the same abilities.

More on the Fundamentals of Fitness


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