Salzburg Skiing for the Elderly Study: influence of alpine skiing on aerobic capacity, strength, power, and balance
Alpine skiing is a recreational sport with high demands on the cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems. It is assumed that skiing could have positive effects on the decline in aerobic capacity, strength, and balance ability of older individuals. In a 12-week intervention study, 47 elderly subjects (age 60–76 years) were randomized into an intervention group (IG) and a control group (CG). The IG averaged 28.5 days of guided skiing during 12 weeks. Aerobic capacity, leg power, and strength as well as postural stability were tested before, immediately after, and 10 weeks after the intervention phase. VO2max improved by 7.2% from Pre to Post for the IG, without any change in the CG. Jump height increased on average by 6% over the 12 weeks for the IG, while jump height for the CG deteriorated by −11.7%. Dynamic maximal strength measured in both legs increased by 16% in the IG during the 12 weeks of skiing. In the CG, it increased by 7%, without being significant. In postural ability, no differences between groups or over time were noted. It appears that, in older individuals, 12 weeks of skiing leads to a significant increase in aerobic capacity, leg muscle power, and strength.
You're never too old to ski!
Here's a layman's review:
The main findings of the study showed that alpine skiing two to three times per week for 12 weeks leads to a significant increase in aerobic capacity, leg muscle power and strength in older, average-trained men and women. The mean oxygen uptake (VO2 max) improved by 7.2 percent, power measures improved by 17 percent, and maximal dynamic quadriceps strength increased by 16 percent. Additionally, the quadriceps muscle size increased by 7.1 percent with an equal increase in slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers. Other benefits included increased glucose metabolism, decreased postural sway and improved psychological measures.