Skip to main content

Nordic Skiing: The Best Winter Workout During COVID-19

Staying fit during the pandemic with nordic skiing

Don't want to stay cooped up inside all winter?

Are you looking for a better way to stay active, healthy, and happy this winter? During these crazy times, our normal routines and activities are often no longer an option. But for lots of people, living room workouts and the spin bike in the garage just won’t cut it.

What can you do?

In this article we’ll explain why nordic skiing, also known as cross country skiing, is one of the best winter workouts you can do to stay fit (and sane) during the pandemic. Keep reading to learn what you need to know.

If nordic skiing is completely foreign you, check out our ultimate guide.

Explore The Guide

Or read on to get started.

The problem with staying in shape over the winter (during a pandemic)

woman jumping over hurdles indoors

Let’s face it. 

Even before the pandemic, most of us would much rather get our exercise outdoors than inside our homes or a crowded gym.

Getting fresh air and traversing real terrain is a big reason why many of us love to exercise in the first place.

But when the trails are covered in snow and the roads are too nasty to ride, the bikers, hikers, and runners can find it difficult to get in their dose of dopamine. 

And with COVID-19 restrictions, it’s become much less feasible and appealing to workout in gyms and community centers.

Working out at home is always an option, but it’s certainly not for everyone. You may not have the space, the equipment, or the motivation.  And who could blame you?

So for the people who love to move, what can you do?

Nordic skiing is the perfect winter activity

two nordic skiers on track

Of course you might think of skiing during the winter, but not everyone knows the difference between alpine (downhill) skiing, and nordic (cross country) skiing.

And we’d venture to say that even less people are aware of all the reasons why nordic skiing is the perfect way to get in a great workout and have fun during the winter.

Here’s a quick overview of why nordic skiing is such an awesome way to exercise during the cold months:

  • It'll get you out and moving.
    Don't let winter turn you into a recluse. Once the snow falls, trade your bike or your running shoes in for a set of skis and keep enjoying the outdoors!

  • There are different styles to choose from.
    You can pick from classic or skate style skiing for even more speed. You can also ski maintained trails and tracks at resorts and local parks or you can head out into the backcountry for extra adventure.

  • It's a better workout than downhill skiing.
    Because you use your whole body, you'll usually get a better workout during a day of nordic skiing than you would on the slopes.

  • It's great for getting away from crowds.
    You won't find massive crowds and packed lift lines at nordic trailheads. Cross country skiing is the perfect way to find your own space in nature.

Why is cross country skiing such good exercise?

classic race skiing

Nordic skiing is a full body workout

Because gravity isn't always on your side when nordic skiing, you'll need to use your whole body to propel yourself forward. 

You're still gliding over the snow, but in order to ski efficiently you have to really get your arms involved and use your poles to boost your momentum.

All the while you'll obviously be using lots of leg muscles, and at the end of the day you'll feel like you got in a really great workout.

race skate nordic skiing

Skate vs classic skiing workouts

Depending on the style of cross country skiing you want to do, you can choose the activity that best suits your goals. 

While there are some exceptions, you can usually think of classic and backcountry nordic skiing almost like hiking or jogging. It's more of an endurance exercise that's better for longer distances and time periods.

If you want a shorter but more intense workout, similar to running or sprinting, you'll love how skate skiing will blast your muscles and test your cardio.

Where to go nordic skiing near Bend, OR

We are very fortunate to have access to plenty of great nordic skiing trail systems right at our fingertips here in Bend. These are some of our favorite places to ski. Whether you call Bend home or you're just visiting the area, you should definitely check these places out.

skate skier at Mt. Bachelor

Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center

Mt. Bachelor is just over 20 miles from town and offers 56km of skate and classic tracks. Mt. Bachelor also has the longest groomed nordic season in North America.


swampy lakes sno-park map

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park

Swampy Lakes is a bit closer to Bend and is another great nordic option with plenty of trails to have fun on. It's maintained by the Forest Service and permits are cheaper than a pass at Mt. Bachelor.

skier at virginia meissner sno-park

Virginia Meissner Sno-Park

Another local favorite spot, the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park has over 30km of groomed trails for both classic and skate. The fees to ski here are the same as other Forest Service lands.

Want to see more ski spots? 

Check out all our favorite areas around Bend for nordic skiing fun.

Get your nordic gear

nordic skis

Nordic Skis

Pick your style: classic, skate, or backcountry and find your perfect pair of skis.

nordic ski boots

Nordic Ski Boots

Once you've picked the style of nordic you like, check out our selection of boots right here.

nordic ski bindings

Nordic Ski Bindings

You can't ski without bindings. Once you've picked your boots it's time to find some bindings.

nordic ski clothes

Nordic Ski Clothing

Winter workout clothes make for great nordic ski gear. Check it all out here.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Nordic Skiing

two xc skiers skiing classic style in machined track

Want to learn more?

Want to learn the ins and outs of the different types of cross country skiing? Read our Ultimate Guide to Nordic Skiing and find the style that suits you best, plus see our favorite brands and equipment.