The weather is cold - real cold. You hop on a chair lift that takes you to the top of a very tall mountain. From the summit you can see for miles and miles - other snow-covered mountains, frozen lakes, a few small towns. You glide over to the edge of the trail and take one last look at the view. You breathe the cold air deeply, but your layers of clothing and adrenaline keep you warm. Then, you're off.
Downhill skiing is one of the most popular winter sports, and it's easy to see why. It's a great workout and a way to enjoy beautiful winter scenery and fresh air.
Exercise: Some people might say that downhill skiing isn't a good workout, that gravity and the slippery snow does all the work. But there are few better workouts than a day of skiing. Athletes use their leg muscles to make turns and stay in control as they speed down the hill. Skiers also use their upper bodies to dig their poles into the snow and make crisp turns. Since they are constantly using their legs and arms, skiing becomes a good cardio-vascular workout, as well.
Cross-Country: If high altitudes aren't your thing, cross-country skiing is also a tremendous winter workout. In this sport, skiers glide across all sorts of terrain, going uphill, downhill and across straight-aways. Like cross-country running, cross-country skiing is a true endurance exercise. It's a great way to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors.
Getting Better: Like any sport, there is only one way to get better at skiing: practice, practice, practice. It usually takes skiers years to advance from the green circle beginner slopes to blue square intermediates and finally the black diamond expert trails. During that time, though, there are hundreds of mountains and thousands of trails all over the country to explore.
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