Haslett, Mich. - York University, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada released a study titled, “The Fitness and Health Benefits of Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Riding.” Those of us who snowmobile have always known that snowmobiling is an energetic, active, fun activity and now a study is highlighting other health benefits.
The study was performed by York University to characterize the physiological demands of OHV riding under typical conditions for recreational riders. The study analysis of exercise intensity during riding revealed that between 14-38 percent of an OHV ride is within the intensity range required to achieve changes in aerobic fitness. Riding on a representative day leads to some muscular fatigue, particularly in the upper body.
The study concludes that, “On the basis of the measured metabolic demands, evidence of muscular strength requirements and the associated caloric expenditures with OHV riding, this form of activity conforms to the recommended physical activity guidelines and can be effective for achieving beneficial changes in health and fitness.”
Yes, it is good to see that snowmobiling is not only fun but contributes to the individual wellbeing and physical fitness of snowmobilers.
This first national study began in 2007 with a nationwide survey involving 310 participants to determine the characteristics of a typical rider and a typical ride. This information was used as the basis to determine the health and fitness impacts of OHV riding.
Phase 2 of the study involved 128 riders, both male and female, divided between the age groups of 16-29, 30-49 and 50 to 65. The riders wore monitors to measure the physical demands of OHV riding to include a rating of the heart rate, oxygen consumption, muscular involvement and the rate of exertion. Following are some interesting conclusions of the study:
- OHV riding was found to require a true physiological demand that is expected to have a beneficial effect on health and fitness.
- OHV riding was determined to be a recreational activity associated with moderate intensity cardiovascular demand and fatigue inducing muscular strength challenges similar to other activities such as rock climbing and alpine skiing.
- Oxygen consumption, an indicator of physical work, increased by 3.5-6 times the resting values respectful of the riders. This falls into the moderate intensity activity level, according to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines.
- The duration of the typical ride of 2-3 hours and the frequency of riding 1 to 2 times per week creates sufficient opportunity to stimulate changes in aerobic fitness, which falls within the physical activity guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine.
It was noted in the study that muscular endurance is enhanced through OHV riding and that upper body strength action can lead to beneficial training increases in musculoskeletal fitness.
The study also underlined the positive social effects of riding and the enhanced quality of life and stress reduction effects of snowmobiling.
Finally, the study reflects on the importance of physical activities such as OHV riding to promote physical activity to individuals who might otherwise forgo exercise altogether.