Backcountry Skiing as Cardiovascular Prevention? An Analysis from the Swiss Alps
Background: More and more people in western countries suffer from a lack of physical activity and thus a predisposition for the development of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. However, normally humans only exercise when they have to or when it`s fun. Backcountry skiing covers partly the fun aspect and potentially reveals protective effects on the metabolism and the cardiovascular system due to continuous physical stimulation.
Material and Methods: Eight recreational backcountry skiers with good basic endurance capacity and regular backcountry skiing activity absolved a tour in the central massive of the Alps (Gotthard region) from Realp to Rotondo and Gross Muttenhorn and Stotzig First. All participants were heart rate monitored during the whole ascent and descent of the tour.
Results: Time for all ascent part of the tour were 7 h 55 min and for all descent 1 h 20 min yielding to an ascent rate of 310 ± 16 m per hour and a descent rate of 1907 ± 504 m per hour. Average heart rate of ascent was 135 ± 6 beats per minute and for descent 119 ± 3 beats per minute. Total tour showed a mean heart rate of 128 ± 4 beats per minute.
Discussion: Measured heart rates are about 75 ± 3.3 percent of theoretical heart rate max for ascent and 66 ± 1.7 percent for descent and therefore in the range of optimal stimulation of cardiovascular system respectively fat metabolism.