The best way to get in shape in winter does not require you to spend lots of money, workout with the masses, or exercise in front of a television. All you need is a little time, a committment to get in shape, and the courage to get out of the house.
Where To Go For a Great Winter Workout
If you are like most people your activity level starts to drop off once the snow starts falling, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop working out and let your efforts of the summer wear off. To get in shape in winter, or to stay in shape through the winter, you need to find something to do. Not just any old thing, but something that will really burn some serious calories.
Look no further than your local county or state park. You see, once the snow falls, you have access to miles and miles of cross-country ski trails that are just begging for you to visit. They are there, out in the beautiful outdoors, just for you. Before you think you aren’t interested, read on! There are some compelling reasons to head outdoors and hit the ski trails.
Why Cross Country Skiing?
For one thing, cross-country skiing is one of the best, if not the best, things you can do outdoors to burn lots of calories and stay in shape throughout the winter. In fact, cross-country skiing burns roughly twice as many calories as a brisk walk and about the same amount as jogging, playing basketball, or swimming laps. Perhaps the greatest benefit of cross-country skiing, however, is that you get to be outside, and not in some crowded gym wiping another person’s sweat off of the equipment. It is one of the most fun things to do in the snow in winter.
Cross country skiing is a total body workout. It will target every last inch of you from your hands to your toes, so be ready to feel totally energized (and initially tired) when you go. You will know that you have done something great when you get home.
How To Find a Trail
The fact is that you can cross-country ski anywhere but to blaze your own trail is serious work and can be no fun at all if the snow is too deep. The best places to look for a groomed trail is a city, county, or state park. Give those offices a call or check out their website to see where the groomed trails are near you.
You may discover two types of trails when you go. The most common is the traditional 2 lines in the snow. These are meant for your skis, so stay in the lines. Messing up the lines is frowned upon and makes it harder for the next skiers.
The other type of trail is for ski-skating. Here you will see ski lines angled outwards. In ski-skating you move your feet more like ice skating. The result is a faster pace but much wider path. Ski-skaters don’t like traditional cross-country skiers on their trail and traditional skiers don’t want ski-skaters on their trail, so pick your method and stick to your trail. If you are a beginner I recommend using the standard method until you really get going.
What About The Weather?
Before you start fretting about the winter temperatures you should know this. When you go cross-country skiing to get in shape in winter you will be surprised how warm the weather feels. In fact, a temperature of 30 degrees is pretty hot for cross-country skiing and the snow can get sticky at these temperatures. You will be much more comfortable when it is 10-20 degrees.
The only thing you really need to do, other than get ready for the snow to fall, is think about the wind chill on your face to decide whether you need to cover your ears and cheeks or not - but you normally don’t.
Allow Your Mind to Wander
Since you will be outside the experience of skiing is a relief for your mind as well, which makes this a very relaxing form of exercise. As you ski through prairie or forest, you can’t help but appreciate the beauty all around you. You will hear the birds and, if you keep at it long enough, you will run into your share of deer or other wildlife. In fact, if you like pictures don’t be afraid to bring a camera along. You never know what you may find.
An Inexpensive Workout
Another thing that makes cross-country skiing one of the best ways to get in shape in winter is that you can go back, again and again, without spending another dime. Once you have the basic equipment the only cost to you is your time and possibly a small fee to use your county or state parks, but those fees typically get you access to the park for an entire year so you can make summer plans to go back while you’re at it. This is one of the cheapest forms of exercise you can get.
It is true that you need to buy some things at first, but you will be able to ski year after year using the same equipment.
The Equipment Needed
The basic equipment that you need to get going is a pair of skis properly sized for you, ski poles, and comfortable clothing. Don’t think that means a winter coat. It is better to dress in a few thin layers when skiing. Thermal pants and shirts with thin fleece layers over them are great. Where you don’t want to skimp is on your hands and head. Get comfortable and athletic but warm gear here. Don’t buy big bulky gloves. To ski well you need to be able to use your fingers, so thin, warm gloves are required.
Go Hit The Trails
If you get out there and get your cross-country skiing in this winter, you will arrive at next spring in great shape, ready to take the summer by storm. In fact, I bet you will be sorry to see the snow go. Of course, spring has it’s own advantages so I’m sure you’ll get over it. If you want to try it out without the investment, see if your county, city, or even state park rents skis. You might be able to try it for a few dollars, but don’t make any rash decisions based on your trial. Good form in cross-country skiing only comes after a little practice. However, once you get your form right the sport is a blast. You won't even feel like you're working out.
Make plans now to start cross-country skiing. It may very well be the best way to get in shape in winter.