By Blythe Beaubien
Explore Big Sky Contributor

February is American Heart Month, and Lone Mountain Ranch has what it takes to show you a good time and keep your heart healthy. Nordic skiing – whether classic- or skate-style – at high elevation will get your heart and lungs working overtime.

Traditional or “classic” Nordic skiing involves waxable or waxless skis, and dates back centuries. It is the easiest form of cross-country skiing and lends itself to all ages. Skate skiing, on the other hand, looks similar in style to ice or inline skating, and is a more rigorous exercise than classic. But both will get your heart pumping and are great ways to see the beautiful Big Sky scenery.

Located at approximately 6,500 feet above sea level in Big Sky, LMR trails cover about 2,200 vertical feet and can make you a hero or make you hurt. Be sure to discuss your exercise plans and health history with your doctor before embarking on a Nordic ski regimen. For those unaccustomed to the elevation, work up your cardiovascular abilities by walking, running, or climbing stairs.

Leg strength is the key to success in Nordic skiing. Your legs are your powerhouse and do most of the work on the trails, especially on hills. Squats, lunges and calf raises are all easy exercises to help get your legs in shape. Also, yoga is a great way to train your body to keep centered and balanced while you’re skiing. Committing to a yoga session three times a week will put you in prime Nordic skiing shape.

Those who are not used to exerting themselves at elevation should use caution and start slowly. Drink plenty of water and listen to your body.

If you’re new to the sport of cross-country skiing, the ranch’s outdoor shop offers lessons for beginners and equipment rental and lesson packages include the trails fee. Nordic skiing is a rewarding form of exercise and a great way to explore the natural beauty of Lone Mountain Ranch and the surrounding wilderness areas. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, as we often see moose and elk on the ranch’s trails.

The ranch’s saloon offers an additional way to keep your heart healthy. A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology reported that drinking a glass of red wine can equate to an hour of exercise. According to the study, resveratrol, a natural compound found in certain fruits, nuts, and red wine, could actually “enhance exercise training and performance.”

Stop by the saloon after your ski day to enjoy a glass of red wine and mountain views. It’s the perfect reward after a long day on the trails.

Blythe Beaubien is the sales manager at Lone Mountain Ranch. She fled the big city of San Francisco and has been a Big Sky resident for four years. Beaubien enjoys all that Montana has to offer including fly fishing, hiking, biking, skiing and golf.