Experiential Snowboarding in Hokkaido Japan’s Niseko, Furano and Ashidake.

Snowboarding engages the entire body as well as the mind where life lessons like trust, anticipation, and confidence are essential. Experts find snowboarding challenging physically, but also beneficial for your mind and body (see supporting research below). This is why CliffHanger Academy has decided to make it one of our cornerstone “in the wild” experiences.

Furano, Japan

Benefits of Snowboarding

  • Tones entire body

  • Improves memory, creativity and the ability to learn

  • Reduces stress

  • Helps slow down the aging process

  • Increases flexibility, balance, and coordination

  • Improves mental health and mood

  • Helps develop relationships

Tones entire body
Snowboarding works all the major muscle groups in your body (legs, back, chest, shoulders) as well as the smaller ones (hips, feet, wrist, and ankles). The muscles in your ankles and feet will help you steer, your core muscles will help you balance and your arms, back, and shoulders will be used for balance and to pick yourself up. In addition to building full body strength, snowboarding is an aerobic exercise that offers an intense cardio workout and can burn up to 450 calories per hour, so it’s a great way to lose weight and increase your endurance. Because of this, snowboarders achieve a more athletic physique, which leads to greater self-confidence and a more positive body image.

Improves memory, creativity and the ability to learn
“Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning,” says the Harvard Medical School. People come up with twice as many creative ideas while exercising, compared to those who do not. Additional research has demonstrated that adults who exercised intensely three times a week performed better on a memory task four months later than those who didn’t. Exercise can spur the growth of new brain cells, boost their ability to talk to one another and even influence their shape and size, says the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, whose early research showed that aerobic exercise itself – and not some other factor like maze learning – was responsible for the growth of brain cells.

Snowboarding is well known to stimulate the brain in a variety of other ways such as increasing the production of cells in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning as well as boosting creativity for up to two hours afterward. Snowboarding/exercising outdoors helps improve memory, boost creativity and wake your brain up with the same effect as drinking a cup of coffee and may even decrease symptoms of ADHD.

Reduces stress
Snowboarding, like any form of exercise, releases endorphins, the neurochemicals responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. Snowboarding has been shown to reduce stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps balance our brains’ response to stress.  Jonathan Chang, MD, of Pacific Orthopedic Associates, says another key perk of snowboarding, and many other sports, is that “the thrill of shredding the powder is good for your mental health.” Recent studies, Chang says, indicate an elevation in people’s mood and reduced anxiety level improve when they exercise outdoors.

Snowboarding out also helps keep us from ruminating “by altering blood flow to those areas of the brain involved in triggering us to relive these stressful thoughts again and again,” says study co-author Elissa Epel, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

Improves mental health and mood
Exercise has also been linked to helping treat a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anorexia, and addiction. Snowboarding, however, differentiates itself from other traditional exercises by being linked to what positive psychologists call “flow state,” which is a place where riders enter a mindset that creates a sense of euphoria, timelessness and even blocks pain, according to Indiana University.

Helps slow down the aging process
Exercising, such as snowboarding, has been shown to reverse stress’s toll on our aging process at the cellular level, according to a 2010 study from the University of California.

Increases flexibility, balance, and coordination
Snowboarding significantly improves overall flexibility, as it requires you to change directions and pace frequently and suddenly. This flexibility can help with day to day activities, especially during winter time when joints tend to get a little tighter. Balance will improve as you grow more proficient at the sport. Snowboarding also strengthens your ability to concentrate, as you learn to focus your attention on the changes in the snow and prepare your movement.

Develop relationships
You meet awesome people while snowboarding, so it can help you bond with others. It also gives you better self-esteem, which in turn helps with your interpersonal skills. Since snowboarding’s roots are a fringe sport, the attitude of the snowboarding community is one of openness and friendliness. Those who may not fit in well in other sports can find a place in snowboarding, where differences of all types are accepted and celebrated. It also helps reduce stress levels because of the social interaction with family and friends. Social interaction helps fight feelings of depression.

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