Not only does snowboarding work your legs and abs, it’s a fun way to exercise outside in the colder months

By Bonnie Schiedel

Fitness trend: Snowboarding

“Even on a beautiful warm summer day, I am just waiting for that first flake of snow!” says Anik Lefebvre, who has been snowboarding for the past 11 years. “I love the feeling of freedom on the slopes; it clears your head.” Lefebvre, 27, is assistant manager at a sporting goods store in St-Sauveur, Que., that is a two-minute drive to the slopes; she boards six or seven days a week before or after work for at least an hour at a time. And, thanks to snow-making equipment and Quebec’s climate, her season can start in late October and stretch until May.

While Lefebvre loves to peel down the hills on her board, she also spends time working on her “park skills”—that is, learning how to jump and twist in mid-air over structures called rails, jumps, rollers, tabletops and boxes. Every year for the past five years, she’s been taking a day-long workshop aimed at helping women sharpen their skills both in the park and on the hills, and has made good friends there, including Chloe Gregoire and Laurie Caron. “We see each other at these snowboarding camps, but we keep in touch through Facebook the rest of the year,” Lefebvre says. “It’s always a blast to see each other again and see where everyone is at in their lives.”

Snowboarding as a group adds to the fun, she says. “Snowboarding can be a solo sport with just you and your board. But when you have your girls around you, it pumps up the motivation. And when we’re riding or on the lift, we talk about everything—snowboarding, fashion, relationships. It creates a bond.”

The health benefits


Snowboarding works the leg and abdominal muscles; it also improves balance and is a great cardio workout, says Lefebvre. A 150-lb. woman burns about 480 calories in an hour of snowboarding.

What to wear


Dress as you would for skiing, with moisture-wicking microfibre long underwear, a thin fleece or wool sweater, snow pants, insulated jacket, hat and mitts. Helmets are required for freestyle or park snowboarding (and are becoming more common among skiers). Goggles will help protect your eyes from the snow’s glare.

Where to learn


Lessons will make it a lot easier for you to learn the right skills. You can find women’s programs at shredsisters.com (the Womens Snowboard Federation) or canadasnowboard.ca; click on “Programs.” Or you can check with your nearest ski hill. Look for an instructor who is certified by the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors (casi-acms.com).

This article was originally titled "Hit the slopes!" in the December 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience–and never miss an issue!

Best Health magazine, December 2012; Image: Thinkstock

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