The Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO) is pleased to receive initial findings that recreational snowmobiling can assist in the accumulation of the total recommended physical activity time needed to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Study data suggests that the activity level of snowmobiling has traditionally been underestimated.
This according to preliminary results from a yet-to-be published University of Guelph study entitled “The Physiological Assessment and Analysis of the Physical Demand of Riding a Snowmobile”.
“This news will come as no surprise to snowmobilers across Canada who ride all winter,” commented CCSO President Dale Hickox. “Snowmobiling gets you outdoors, breathing fresh air and being active with friends & family – and that simply makes you healthier and better able to cope with life’s challenges.”
But the fact is that many North Americans fail to get at least 150 minutes weekly of moderate to vigorous activity as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. This deficiency is compounded in the winter as North Americans burn 15-20% fewer calories in weekly recreational activities. It should be noted that physical inactivity accounts for 15% of the 1.6 million chronic health conditions diagnosed each year. Typically, chronic health conditions consume 67% of all direct health care costs and cost the Canadian economy $190 billion annually in treatment expenses and lost productivity.
This snowmobiling health study indicates that participating in snowmobiling is one good way to achieve the better physical conditioning that keeps people healthier and helps prevent chronic health conditions. Conducted in 2016/17, the study evaluated the physical demand of snowmobiling, considering both cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal demands. It also examined if activity location would play a role in the physical demands.
Considering early results researchers compared the snowmobiling health study results to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Compendium of Physical Activities. This tool defines activities by their aerobic demands as a metabolic equivalent (MET). A MET is a unit that represents the amount of energy required to maintain human function while sitting or lying awake at rest. Therefore, an activity of 3 METs would be 3 times more demanding than rest.
Moderate intensity activities range between 3-6 METs. Snowmobiling falls into this category, as the average METs for groomed trail riding scored almost 4 METs, while mountain riding came in closer to 7 METs. All in all, this puts snowmobiling in the same physical activity range as other winter activities like chopping wood, snow shovelling, and recreational ice-skating and snowshoeing.
A balanced lifestyle also includes good mental health. According to a major depressive disorder study by researchers at Duke University, physical activity is also effective in beating those winter blues. Together, these findings suggest snowmobiling is good for both body and mind.
The CCSO and its snowmobiling health study funding partners: the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators (IASA), Arctic Cat Industries, Ski-Doo (BRP), Off Road Business Association (ORBA), Royal Distributing Inc., Colorado Snowmobile Association (CSA), Snowmobile North Dakota (SND), Glacier House in Revelstoke BC, Haliburton Forest Wildlife Reserve in Haliburton ON; are committed to winter family recreation and the healthy, active lifestyle benefits associated with recreational snowmobiling.