Don't let winter deter your outdoor exercise plans

By Arianne Brown

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 17 2013 3:41 p.m. MST

Running across Utah Lake last winter.

Arianne Brown

I get it.

For many years, I would begrudgingly look out my window as the snow fell and barricade myself in my home until springtime. My fitness routine consisted of the dreaded treadmill and exercise videos. More often than not, I would forgo getting any exercise at all. Winter was a drag, and it was dragging me along with it.

But as one who overcame the disdain for frigid temperatures — thanks, in part, to an unforgettable run across Utah Lake last winter — I ask that you reconsider winter as a time to hibernate.

We are not bears; we are humans — humans who just so happen to live in a state known for the “greatest snow on Earth.” Our snow didn't get that name from people staring out of windows at it.

This snow is meant to be felt, to touch, to experience.

Any skier or snowboarder will tell you that there is nothing quite like the thrill of getting out on the slopes in fresh powder. It’s also a fantastic form of exercise. You use your arms to help move forward, your legs and hips to turn and, in doing so, you are exerting yourself in a way that makes your heart rate go up, helping to build your cardiovascular strength.

But hitting the slopes may not be your thing. Maybe it is the price tag. Maybe you are just not a winter sports person. If you're like me, the first and only time you went snowboarding, you ended up using the board as a sled.

Of course, winter presents unique challenges. Make sure to monitor the air quality, which when poor can harm "even healthy adults who exercise or work outdoors," according to the American Lung Association. (See the Utah Division of Air Quality website at www.airquality.utah.gov for current levels.)

Warm clothing and a good pair of trail shoes can help with colder temperatures and grip. Runners should always be watchful of ice.

But with proper conditions and preparation, getting outside for a walk or run in winter is absolutely wonderful.

I, for one, love to run on the mountain trails near my home. I prefer the trail over the road for many reasons. I love how I can feel the crunch under my feet, and how I am relatively free from the ice that the roads often have. I love how I can make my own footprints in the snow or follow the ones left by the many deer, rabbits and birds — even foxes and coyotes.

The feel of the crisp, cool air warms my soul. The way the snow and even wind feel on my face makes me feel alive. The calm and quiet that winter brings allow me to more easily reflect on life's everyday challenges, without all the usual noise of the day.

More than anything, getting out and experiencing the winter wonderland that surrounds me makes me appreciate more what a beautiful world we live in.

So, as we enter this time of year, don't spend it staring out your window. Get outside and experience Utah's beautiful winters.

Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by her, "like" her Facebook page by searching, "Writer Arianne Brown" or follow her on Twitter @arimom5.

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