Snowmobiling as Health-Beneficial Fun

snowSnowmobilers know that their sport is more than just fun – it’s energetic and active – so it’s no surprise to winter sports enthusiasts to hear that Toronto’s York University recently released a new study on “The Fitness and Health Benefits of Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Riding.” The study was an analysis of exercise intensity and its impact on achieving aerobic fitness. The researchers concluded that the physical activity of an OHV ride is effective for beneficial changes in overall health and fitness.

This national Canadian study started in 2007 and involved a group of 310 individuals who were monitored to determine the characteristics of a typical rider and ride. From that baseline, an additional group of 128 male and female riders in various age ranges: 16-29, 30-49, and 50-65 were further monitored to determine the physical demands of OHV riding, and to learn about heart rates, oxygen consumption, muscular improvement, and exertion rate while they were participating in their sport.

Results showed that OHV riding had similar physical challenges to activities like rock climbing and alpine skiing. It presents a moderate intensity cardiovascular demand and muscle strength challenges. Oxygen consumption increased in most subjects by 3.5 to 6 times the resting rate.

For purposes of the study, duration of a typical ride for the study group was 2-3 hours, and most participated in their sport twice weekly. This proved to be enough to stimulate noticeable changes in their individual aerobic fitness levels. Researchers noted that muscular endurance was enhanced through OHV riding, and also that the improvement in upper body strength frequently resulted in better overall musculoskeletal fitness.

Another positive effect of this recreational activity was not ignored in the study – the positive social effects of riding, including the improvement to quality of life and the reduction of stress. Many individuals who might otherwise choose to forgo exercise seem to benefit from the health improvement provided by a sport they love and are enthusiastic about participating in. Snowmobiling is a path to better physical fitness, packaged as fun.