Country Culture - This Could Be You

Happiness and health are just a hill away

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With the reduced level of sunlight these days, the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing for many people. This time of year, many of us are trying to increase our vitamin D levels, and to fight all the flus, absorbing what sun exists with fresh, unabated air, through our lungs. This recipe lends itself well to sliding where happiness and health are just a hill away.

According to health experts, the benefits of sliding downhill uses well over 400 calories per hour and contributes to the absorption of the “sunshine vitamin,” provided your sledding sojourn is over 30 minutes several times a week. Minutes of “green exercise” have shown to reduce stress and improve mood and self-esteem while creating those important memories.

Not being a health professional, I can’t exactly know the ancillary benefits of sliding, but making snow angels, eating copious amounts of snow, laughing with your grandchildren and taking side trips into hedgerows to look for wildlife seems just as valuable for your health. To embrace this health regime, one needs an appropriate sled.

This is where it got a bit dark for me. The New York Times just came out with their best sled, endorsing a whopping $159 L.L. Bean Sonic Snow Tube. For an old frugal farmer, that seemed like a lot of coin, until I learned bobsled, toboggan, jet ski, plastic and premium foam sled styles average between $60 and $200. The art of having a meaningful ride is dependent on having a good sled, but I guess this health benefit got way more expensive than I thought.

Stay healthy – slide more! Photo by Troy Bishopp

I’ve found that kids (and Pop-Pops) need function, not fancy. For any movement on snow, it’s especially important to consider the person’s age, personality, experience, hill angle, type of snow, groomed (or not), obstacles and the ending point. Consistently, we’ve found the sided, flat-bottom, hard plastic, neon-colored ones have worked best for long straight rides in most conditions. They average less than $25 in most places. It goes without saying that old inner tube on the farm still works quite nicely also.

I’ll also say that back in the day, craftspeople made many durable, excellent sleds and toboggans out of wood and steel that have stood the test of time and enjoyment. We still use our ancestors’ sleds or metal saucers and they can still be bought at garage sales and flea markets for a great value. You have choices depending on your sledding needs.

You know what’s really epic for your health? Sharing smiles, laughter and creating lasting memories with family members. If you consider the nutritional benefits of enjoying a home-cooked meal and a cup of hot chocolate after hanging up the mittens and the positive melatonin release, you’ve got to consider dusting off that ol’ sled. Bring on the vitamin D.

by Troy Bishopp

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