OFSC Trail Riding Provides Physical & Mental Health Benefits for Snowmobilers

Physical Activity of Snowmobiling Contributes To Rider Well Being This Winter

(Barrie, ON: December 17, 2020) – For more than 50 years, The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) has delivered 30,000 kilometres of snowmobile trails for the enjoyment of Ontarians while also providing numerous economic, social and health benefits. While the economic impact of snowmobiling is well-documented in several studies and now reaches up to $3.3 billion annually in our province, only recently have the social and health benefits of snowmobiling been professionally quantified.

According to a recent University of Guelph (UofG) study conducted for the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (CCSO), “snowmobiling is a good form of physical activity.” The UofG Human Performance & Research Laboratory study concludes that snowmobiling is a “moderate intensity physical activity”, with a “typical ride using a similar amount of energy to downhill skiing or snow shoveling.”

It also notes that Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend a person participate in 150 minutes per week of such moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity to maximize health benefits and to prevent a variety of health risks. So, given that the study indicates that the average snowmobile ride on groomed trails is 6 about hours, a single snowmobile trip is likely to accumulate more, and a weekend of trail riding much more, than this weekly physical activity recommendation.

Equally important, the UofG study confirms that snowmobiling can also be good for mental health. Getting outdoors, being in natural light, seeing nature, and sharing these experiences with others have recognized mental health benefits. All are aspects of our lives often neglected during the winter, and certainly throughout 2020 have become even more significant amid increasing mental health concerns as people strive to cope with the prolonged pandemic crisis.

Together, the UofG study confirms that physical and mental factors position snowmobiling as “an excellent winter activity for people of all ages as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

The UofG health findings certainly support the real-life experiences of hundreds of thousands of active Ontario snowmobilers over many years. The study also reinforces survey results from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) where snowmobilers identified their top reasons to go snowmobiling as related to their overall well-being, including getting outdoors to have fun while enjoying unique scenery and places, and then going home tired and ready for a good night’s sleep.

“Undoubtedly, these health considerations are partly responsible for the surging increase in snowmobile and trail permit sales as many new and former participants are choosing to go snowmobiling this season to stay active,” said OFSC CEO Landon French. “Snowmobilers have always felt that getting out on the trails is a sure cure for the wintertime blues.”

Recognition of the physical and mental health benefits of snowmobiling is very timely for 2020. Throughout the pandemic, health experts have continually encouraged Ontarians to stay as physically active as possible while following all public health measures.

Going snowmobiling is a good way to maintain fitness and well being, especially since riding a sled on the trails is essentially a physically distanced activity. So, to further enhance rider and community health before, during and after any ride, the OFSC has developed Ride Smart 2021, which provides snowmobilers with necessary precautions in line with current provincial public health protocols. Meanwhile, for the safety of new and returning participants, the OFSC is also offering free, online Safe Rider training materials with valuable tips and advice.

The OFSC reminds snowmobilers to check with your public health region prior to every ride, and also to check the Interactive Trail Guide and Go Snowmobiling Ontario App regularly and frequently to plan appropriate local and regional rides, and to reconfirm your route and services before starting each morning.

The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) is a volunteer led, not for profit association that provides the voice for organized snowmobiling in Ontario. OFSC snowmobile trails managed by 200 community based, member clubs generate up to $3.3 billion in economic activity in the province each year.