Photo by amoon ra on Unsplash

Congratulations, your passion for skiing/riding has rewarded you. If you are reading this, you are a quinquagenarian, sexagenarian, septuagenarian, octogenarian, nonagenarian, or even a centenarian.  That’s a lot of “-genarians”, and a question we all face is how long we want to or intend to ski or ride.

A few seasons ago, I met a 91-year-old man who skis 120-130 days per season. He told me the Grim Reaper will need better skis than his to find and catch him.  The comment attests to his positive attitude and upbeat personality, both important to longevity, on the slopes and off.

If you distill the research on longevity, three factors stand out – genetics, attitude and lifestyle.  You are your genetics, so reading this checkmarks attitude.  That leaves lifestyle, diet and exercise.

More and more longevity research shows that social connections with family, friends and a community such as the community of skiers/riders, are among the most significant indicators of longevity.  We navigate the hill as individuals, however, choosing to do so with family, friends, and other skiers makes us an integral part of the mountain community.

Your doctor probably has told you the same thing as mine, that “your running days are over, so swim or walk.”  We all know aerobic capacity is essential for skiing, and recent research has shown that muscle mass and strength are much more a factor in longevity than previously.

So go take a walk or for a swim or to the gym.  Not crazy about the gym?  Use your ski boot to exercise at home or in your hotel room or condo. Raise a ski boot from the floor to over your head, first with one arm, then with the other; use both boots for a two-arm press, together or one at a time; hold the boot in front of you and do squats.

Diet is perhaps the most confounding factor in longevity.  Unfortunately, government dietary guidance over the last fifty years has been confusing, misleading, and in some cases flat-out wrong.  We lived through the low-fat years eating unsatisfying baked cardboard.  Now we know that fats are dietary essentials, but the right kind of fats – the unsaturated ones found in fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Many of us switched to diet drinks and “diet” foods in the belief that artificial sweeteners contribute zero calories, which is mostly true.  Consequently, we think we can eat more low-cal whatever because each one contributes fewer calories; we end up consuming even more total calories.  As that old advertising slogan goes – “Bet you can’t eat just one ….”

Now we know that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite and promote weight gain.  We also now know that they make us crave sweeter food by overstimulating our sweet taste receptors.  Plus, they affect our gut biome, which can trigger even more serious health consequences.

What should a longevity skier do about diet?  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the diet recommendations and their justification.  But most research, and your physician, still point to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet – fresh, minimally processed, seasonal, local vegetables and fruits; meats and fish in moderation; olive oil as the primary fat; and most importantly, wine in moderation.

Your guidepost is easy – don’t eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognize as food.  Sadly, the industrial agriculture-based food supply and distribution system makes it hard to do that, to eat for longevity.

So here’s your test – how much time do you spend in the center aisles of the grocery store?  The center aisles are where you find industrially-processed foods, so-called Frankenfoods, that do not contribute to longevity. The fresh foods you seek are on the peripheries. Also, grocery store shelves are stacked with the most appealing packages at eye level, so bend down or reach up for the better choices.

Walking around the outside of the supermarket, and reaching up and bending down is good exercise, too.


  1. Evelyn Konrad says:

    I’m a 94-YEAR-OLD SKIER, and I attribute it to my terrific ski club, which
    takes the hasstle out of travel, offers lodging in our great, plain-vanilla
    ski lodge in Waitsfield, provides “chef-level” terrific food from our great cook, Caroline, and don’t forget the generosity of Sugarbush and Killington
    which allows us to ski for free after age 80 (Killington) or 90!!! On the other
    hand, Vail Resorts has made my favorite Mount Mansfield way over my
    budget by insisting that skiers like me pay a huge fee! So there! Make it
    economically possible, and logistically agreeable, and give us as great ski buddies as Miramar Ski Club does!!!

  2. Great article. Didn’t realize that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite.

  3. Wise words to live, and ski, by! Thanks.

  4. Excellent advice! We have been following that for a long time and are enjoying the benefits. Have you any advice on the following?

    As a returning skier (after a 40-year absence from the slopes), I discovered a new risk: being injured by another skier/boarder crashing into you from behind. In the past three weeks of my ski class, I have met six people (two instructors and four regular skiers) who had been seriously injured by someone crashing into them from behind. Clearly, the old training of ”don’t look behind, look ahead only” is no longer safe. Any comments and advice for an 80-year-old ”returning novice”?

    • Patty Randall says:

      If I only hear somebody behind me on certain trails I pull over and let them go first. I am only 77, and since being hit I just prefer to take extra precautions. My goal is to make it to 80 or Beyond Maybe.

    • I have been hit and taken down 4 times in the last couple of years. Fortunately I wasn’t seriously injured any of the 4 times, but I could have been. In every instance I never saw the out of control person coming. And in none of the cases did we just collide. I was struck by skiers who were trying to ski runs beyond their ability. Anyway there’s not much you can do except keep your head on a swivel, especially when crossing a trail or intersections. Of course when you are the one approaching someone from behind be sure to shout out “on your left” or “on your right” when overtaking them. It’s not always easy to decide where or how to pass someone who is traversing a run. But communication is your best bet in avoiding a collision.


    “And most importantly, wine in moderation” is no longer considered good advice. That red wine promotes health is a fallacy. Especially as one ages, alcohol has adverse health effects and negatively affects almost all organs.

  6. Roger B Monty says:

    Good advice! Another useful exercise I practice, and actually enjoy, is bicycling – excellent aerobics, but without the unwanted harshness of running.

    • Bicycling and swimming are the most fluid sports (imo), and may be enjoyed, climatically, most of the year. Enjoyed this informative article on skiing, would like to find a similar one on cycling.

  7. Great article. Well into our 70s now. We still manage several hours of low impact exercise every day. Also are long term non meat eaters. These choices came down what seemed healthy. Each to their own!

  8. Is Stevia an artificial sweetener?

    • Stevia is not considered an “artificial sweetner” and does not have similar side effects.
      Stevia is a bushy shrub that is part of the sunflower family. Stevia extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is considered “no-calorie,” but does not strictly contain zero calories; it is significantly less calorific than sucrose.

      Multiple global regulatory bodies have determined that high-purity stevia extract is safe for consumption by the general population within the recommended levels, including children. Governing bodies have established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 4 milligrams per kilogram (kg) of body weight. 100 pounds is about 45 kg; the ADI would be 180 mg of stevia.

      You have to check the packaging to make sure you are getting high-purity stevia. Some producers dilute the stevia with other ingredients.

  9. Katie Van Hees says:

    I’ve been on a pretty good diet for the last 20 years tho I must admit I’ve gained a few pounds. I contribute that to too much wine. Thanks for the finger wag. I too didn’’t know about the artificial sweeteners.
    A side note: I see you are from Tamarack. Glad they got that resort turned around. Fun skiing there a couple years back during Covid. Too bad they aren’t on some ski pass, at least the ones I checked out.. I really dislike the IKON that my mountain, Sun Valley, went to this year.

  10. I have a friend who is 94 & she is retired ski patrol, skis downhill regularly at different mountains & owns her own E-bike regularly bikes, golfs, paddles her kayak. I love doing all these activites with her! She keeps me Young! Grateful indeed!

  11. I was leveled by a snow boarder on a Saturday at Stowe 3 yr. ago, violent, broke both carbon poles right in half, concussion,(helmut saved my life) PT on shoulder, but wasn’t broke, hit me high from behind, no warning,
    ,avoid skiing on weekends (too crowded) whenever possible. So much for on your right or left. Downhill skier has the right of way, good luck on that. Constantly look behind and let the fast skiers go. 74 now, and want to keep skiing !

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