If you were up early this morning, you might have watched Team GB’s men’s curling team sweep their way to a dramatic 6-5 victory against Japan in the Winter Olympics.
The nail-biting match saw Great Britain slide through at the very last second; the scores were level at 5-5 going into the final end, but Kyle Smith sealed victory with the final stone – and the intensity of the match was not lost on nervous Tweeters, who shared their relief using the hashtag #lovecurling.
Curling might sound like a pretty sedentary sport, but it’s actually one of the most physically and mentally demanding on the Pyeongchang roster.
Sure, it might not have the speed and adrenaline of skeleton, snowboarding or alpine skiing, but curling requires strategy, skill and core-clenching stamina. And if you’ve been tuning in to the Winter Olympics, you’ll know it’s one of the most dramatic winter sports out there.
If this morning’s match has you thinking of giving it a go, here are just a few of the health benefits you can expect to reap.
If you’ve ever tried ice skating, you’ll know how physically demanding staying balanced on a sheet of ice is. Add to that the fact you’re either throwing the stone, sweeping or in a constant squatting position, and you can begin to imagine how tough a game can actually be. Teams are made up of four players, who take it in turns to take shots and sweep, so power and stamina is a big part of the game. Curling strengthens your calves, glutes and quadriceps as well as your triceps and pectorals.
A lot of people mistake curling for an easy or inactive sport, but it’s actually a blistering aerobic workout. Some Canadian studies have shown that heart rates in athletic people can climb as high as 170 bpm while curling – which is what you’d usually expect from a hardcore HIIT class. Research has also found that working out in the cold can burn more calories, and since curling is played on ice and you’re constantly skating back and forth with little rest, you can expect some serious toning and weight-loss benefits.
Team members take it in turns to deliver the stone, an action that requires building speed and power in a lunge position. The major muscles throwing a curling stone relies on are abductors, glutes and hip flexors, and team members need to have amazing flexibility to be able to stay low to the ice and keep control of the stone.
Curling is often referred to as “chess on ice”, because it’s a sport that requires amazing planning and teamwork – in fact there’s even a member of the team called the Skip, whose job it is to decide the strategy and tell the other players where to throw their shots and when to sweep. This is one of the big reasons it’s just as enjoyable to watch as it is to participate.
Curling is pretty unique because it’s a sport for both men and women that can be played by all ages – from kids to adults. It’s also super inclusive too, and anyone can take part, no matter their age or ability. In fact, the Paralympic Games also feature a wheelchair curling event. One of the other big draws is its mental benefits; it’s a fun and competitive sport that’s played in a team, so it can be a great way to boost your social skills and build confidence outside of work.
Want to give curling a try? Curling was invented in the UK, and there are loads of indoor centres around the country where you can give it a go. Check out trycurling.com.