A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Looking for a winter fitness activity? Try curling

Close-up of curling - Health benefits of curling

Curling is a winter sport where people can socialize and stay active.

Curling originated in 16th century Scotland where they played on frozen ponds and lochs in the winter. Scottish immigrants brought the sport to North America, and it is recently gaining popularity after the success of the USA Men’s curling team gold medal win in the 2018 winter Olympics.

Your goal is to outscore your opponent by getting a granite stone, called a rock, closest to the center of a target, or the house. Each team’s players alternate throwing rocks while two team members “sweep” the ice to assist shot to getting closer to the house.

A sport fit for all ages

People of any age can get involved in curling. Teams can start in a junior division for younger curlers, and many high schools that have ice sports have curling teams. Adult leagues have no age limit. “The key skills you need are balance, coordination and patience,” said Dr. Laurel Rudolph, Marshfield Clinic Health System sports medicine provider.

Total body workout

You use all muscle groups when you curl. Your core, quads and hamstrings are activated when you are balancing on ice and throwing the rock. And your upper body gets a workout while you are sweeping the rock to the target.

One way to avoid injuries is to warm up before a match by mimicking the moves in curling.

“Another general concern is the risk for slipping and falling,” Rudolph said. “Anyone with medical concerns that have a higher risk for falls, should contact their health care provider before participating.”

Add action to your winter

In addition to the health benefits, curling helps build coordination and improve mental acuity.

“There’s strategy in curling, so that mental engagement can keep people active,” Rudolph said.

Curling can be very social with different league options, regular tournaments or bonspiels, and is a way to get out of the house in the winter.

“In some ways, it’s like golf. You have players who are just in it to socialize and have fun. There are serious groups who are into the competition and others who like to work at it and improve their skills,” Rudolph said.

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