TOOELE — Tooele County is doing something it has never done before.
With as cold as it’s been outside lately, the Tooele County Health Department is coordinating efforts to open the convention center at the Deseret Peak Complex to give walkers a place to go where it’s warm.
"Naturally, exercise rates will go down in the winter because people don't want to get out in the cold. So, in order to prevent that and keep people active, we realize there is a need for indoor facilities," said Wade Mathews, spokesman for the Tooele County Health Department.
Mathews measured the convention center room to know how many laps it will take for walkers to reach a mile — 15 laps, by the way.
The city opens the Dow James building near 400 North and 400 West every weekday from 6:30 to 10 a.m. for walkers.
“We do get quite a few people in this cold,” said Terra Sherwood, a youth recreation worker for Tooele. “It is really, really cold out there, and we don’t want people to stop being active.”
Right now, the Deseret Peak Complex will only be open for walkers on Wednesday evenings, but Mathews thinks if more people start asking about it, the facility could open additional evenings.
“It's kind of a trial period. We're trying to see how much use it gets," Mathews said. "It is free to the public, but there is an expense involved with the heating and the lighting, so we want to see what happens with it first.”
Both buildings being open for walkers is part of Tooele’s Live Fit, Tooele County coalition. The group is hoping to help residents fight obesity rates by educating them about physical fitness. The coalition understands, though, easy-to-use facilities are part of the solution.
“It was really, literally, sitting down in a meeting and identifying what do we have, and what our gaps are,” Sherwood said.