About snowmobiling as a physical activity
A snowmobile ride is quite different when it comes to being compared to more classic forms of physical activities as it is a vehicle that, with the help of an engine, can help itself to move forward. But, when taking such a ride, you’ll be using your arms, legs and even the whole of your body for certain movements that need muscular endurance plus strength.
Such movements are used very often when it comes to things like a rough hill-like terrain. Scientists have looked into what kind of physical demands snowmobiling has across different terrains and it seems that quite often the exercises you’ll do can be seen as equal to those of moderate intensity, sometimes even moving up to vigorous intensity.
While the exact number regarding physical activity can vary, some researchers recommend a minimum of 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity if they want to keep healthy. Doing such exercises reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
On top of that, they also improve your total level of fitness, your mental health, and your body composition. What’s even more important is that these effects have been seen in all test groups, regardless of gender, age, racial or ethnic background, etc. Therefore, snowmobiling can be a great way of doing what is right for your health while having fun.
Improve your heart rate
As you start to follow harder exercises, your heart will pump faster in order to deliver a bigger quantity of blood to the muscles that you are using for your exercises. This is why the heart rate is being used as a method of making estimates regarding the level of exercising a person does.
According to a study, those people who went riding on a groomed trail had a heart rate that reached 68% of their total maximum. A backcountry rider had a slightly better result of 71% of their maximum, but it was the riders of the mountainous regions that truly beat them all with 82% of the maximum.
Heart rate can be measured with various devices that you can wear on your body (such as around your wrist), but to be fair, it doesn’t offer a complete picture since anxiety or a high level of excitement will lead to bigger numbers even if the heart isn’t exactly exercising.
How much physical activity does that mean?
Aside from the actual ride, taking a trip with a snowmobile will involve various activities (some of which you didn’t even think of beforehand) which will make your body move and work hard.
Some of them include the loading and unloading from the trailer, doing some necessary repairs, filling the snowmobile with gas during cold weather, digging the sled out of the snow, the removal of snow from your tracks, cleaning the road ahead of you, and so on. This makes the whole activity of riding a snowmobile more demanding than actually thought.
Even if you go on an easy route, you may still encounter a more difficult part of the road that will require you to have more energy than you would normally consume. Riding in a way that makes the activity feel like a moderate or vigorous exercise will give completely different numbers than when you are riding it at a low intensity.
Let’s take as an example a ride of one hour at a vigorous intensity. During this time, your body will burn around 600 calories which is not that bad – at all. The same one-hour ride, but only using moderate intensity, would result in you burning less than half of that number with around 250 calories being burned in the same time frame.
Sure, we mustn’t forget that snowmobile rides, on average, tend to be longer than that with about five hours on mountainous terrain and around six hours if on groomed trails. As a result, only one ride, regardless of the level of difficulty, can help you burn a lot of calories as it registers as continuous and demanding physical activity.
So why is it important?
Regardless of the sport you practice, your level of fitness is directly correlated with the ability to perform. This is especially true when it comes to snowmobiling as you’ll have to be able to ride the vehicle (which is really demanding) and have the ability to also go up the mountain.
Because of the demands that this activity requires and due to the prolonged time when you are going to actually do it (as mentioned above, it’s a bit more than just one-two hours), you have to keep in shape, have lots of strength in order to do it properly, and not get tired easily unless you want to be stuck by yourself on top of a mountain, all alone.
It’s recommended that you do some exercises before you actually get on the snowmobile if you want to have really good results and not have any body-related issues while you are out there riding. These exercises are not too difficult and they contribute to your overall level of health anyway so you don’t have a reason not to do it in general as well.
What should you do?
Basically, we can name around 4 main types and aspects of exercising that you have to take into consideration if you want to be in the best shape possible for snowmobiling season. These are as follows: aerobic, anaerobic, balance and cardio (or cardiovascular in full).
The aerobic exercise is the form most commonly used and it refers to when your muscles get full of oxygen and they can start to contract themselves on repeat basically. The anaerobic one means doing exercises with the oxygen lacking and it refers to those high-intensity exercises that you can do until failure.
Balance is a pretty obvious one, while cardiovascular exercises are meant to increase the heart rate, but also your endurance.
Cardio is the most famous out of all the four mentioned and it’s the one you can use even if you’re not planning to go on a ride. Riding in a technical way is quite a workout! If you feel like you’re going to enter a fatigued state with ease, if you don’t have plenty of energy and oxygen, you are going to make mistakes – that’s a given!
You may get stuck, couldn’t keep the hold on the line while you are on a side hill and your risk of being injured is quite high. In order to avoid such issues, do cardio around 3 times a week (3 times is the minimum, but you can push yourself to 5 times a week) for a period of around 20 minutes.
The heart rate in these exercises has to be around double the number your resting heart rate has in order to truly be a workout. Running is the most common form of cardio as it’s fantastic when it comes to increasing cardiovascular endurance. Climbing stairs, bike training or even swimming are other cardio exercises you can do!
Work on your arms
When talking about muscle groups for this activity, you need to focus on your arms, forearms, hands, and wrists. You may not see this as a very obvious choice, but it is because your hands and forearms are literally the things that help you hold onto the handlebars and don’t let you fall from the snowmobile while you are riding it.
You can increase the strength and endurance of these body parts with wrist curls or a grip strength handle. Do these exercises a couple of times per week. You don’t even have to be at the gym in order to do them so it’s even better as you don’t have to squeeze them into your schedule somehow – you can just do them when you have the time.
Hoping you understand why a good physical shape is very important for snowmobiling, we also hope you can put our advice to good use the next time you plan on going for a ride.