A-Z of Skiing: E is for Exercise

Even more important than getting your skis fit for the season is getting yourself in shape. Yet most skiers have only a dim memory of where their triceps and quadriceps are - originally gleaned from a book of ski exercises, which has since lain untouched on a shelf - and usually sharpened by a couple of days' skiing. The certainty of aches and pains to come is not usually enough to force skiers into unusual positions, leaning against walls and kneeling on floors in an effort to prepare themselves physically for the challenge of the slopes.

Even more important than getting your skis fit for the season is getting yourself in shape. Yet most skiers have only a dim memory of where their triceps and quadriceps are - originally gleaned from a book of ski exercises, which has since lain untouched on a shelf - and usually sharpened by a couple of days' skiing. The certainty of aches and pains to come is not usually enough to force skiers into unusual positions, leaning against walls and kneeling on floors in an effort to prepare themselves physically for the challenge of the slopes.

So how about this as incentive for pre-season training? Raising your fitness level lowers the likelihood of injuring yourself while skiing. Statistics from French ski resorts show that the incidence of injuries increases in late afternoon, when skiers - or at least the unfit ones - grow too tired to ski safely. But the unfit are permanently at risk, according to a doctor at Les Arcs whom I consulted. His regime for safe skiing included plenty of food, water and sleep. However, the most important thing, the medic asserted, is that "you should exercise for a couple of months before going skiing".

He explained "people who have trained muscles can control themselves when they are falling. I see people here who cannot get up off the couch without help because their stomach muscles are not strong enough. When they fall, they are out of control."

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