Benefits of an Exercise Ski Machine

A woman is on a ski machine at the gym.
Image Credit: Andres Rodriguez/Hemera/Getty Images

Edward Pauls, a Minnesota Nordic skier, created the first ski machine in 1975. While Pauls marketed his machine to Nordic skiers, he had perfect timing. Kenneth Cooper and Jane Fonda were singing the praises of aerobic exercise. Americans listened. Some became runners, while others joined aerobic dance classes. Anyone living in climates unsuitable for outdoor exercise, and anyone with an aversion to Donna Summer music, required an alternative. The ski machine provided an option. When the idea caught on, exercise equipment manufacturers developed ski machines that simulate Nordic and alpine ski movements.

Aerobic Exercise

The rhythmic, large muscle movements that characterize a cross-country ski machine workout provide efficient and effective aerobic exercise. A cross-country ski workout burns calories, controls weight, strengthens the heart and lowers blood pressure. A 140-lb. person potentially burns 306 calories in a 30-minute ski machine workout.

Weight-Bearing Exercise

Weight-bearing exercises require your bones to work against the force of gravity to support your body weight. The cross-country ski machine provides weight-bearing exercise, which is important for maintaining bone density and preventing osteoporosis.

Upper and Lower Body Exercise

Ski machines require simultaneous arm and leg movement. This may increase caloric expenditure, while toning the leg, gluteal and upper body muscles. If you are pressed for time, using the ski machine provides anaerobic and muscle toning workouts in one session.

Low-Impact Exercise

Few aerobic exercise methods provide aerobic, weight-bearing activity, while remaining low impact. The ski machine is one of the exceptions. Your feet stay in contact with the foot boards throughout the entire workout, making it an acceptable workout for people whose muscular, joint or skeletal limitations preclude the possibility of high-impact exercise.


The most common complaint about ski machines is ironically one of its major benefits. The machines require coordinated movement between the arms and legs. Some people find this challenging at first, but once you master the technique, your overall coordination may improve.

Sport-Specific Training

Coaches and sport-specific conditioning experts often adhere to the dynamic pattern theory of motor learning, a theory that describes the way we learn movement patterns. Those who adhere to this philosophy believe that the brain is more efficient at learning and memorizing movement patterns than muscle isolation. If you are an avid Nordic or alpine skier, cross-country or alpine ski machines provide sport-specific dry land training.