Julie skiing

Julie Painter skis on the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone during a gentle snowstorm. Getting in shape before the winter season has several advantages.

It’s that time of year when we look forward to a new season and snow on the ground.

We have a little time to get our bodies ready for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking. Some serious winter recreators get in better physical condition this time of year than any other. It pays dividends. First, you can jump on your activity and enjoy it more fully.

Perhaps more importantly, you can avoid injuries that can be prevented by strength and conditioning — fewer pulled muscles, hyperextensions or tweaks. Being in shape will also help you make turns, avoid falls or have the strength to avoid things that bring disaster.

Injuries mean you won’t be getting your money’s worth from that expensive season pass because you’ll be sitting at home mending sprained or pulled joints or muscles.

With that in mind, here are a few simple exercises that will give you a head start on winter activities. Basically, it just takes consistency — two to three times a week — to see results. It’s important to not overdo the workouts — that leads to constant fatigue and poor results. Remember that your body grows stronger during rest after working out, not during a workout, so schedule rest days.

The first focus is your heart, lungs and legs. This is simple. If you have access to a treadmill, stair stepper, Nordic exerciser or stationary bike, you’re in business. Or you can just do it the old fashioned way and go running or biking outside. The main idea with this exercise is twofold: Elevate your heart rate and get the miles in for your legs. If you haven’t been exercising in some time, it’s probably a good idea to visit a physician for a physical.

If you’re a member of a health club, you can also consult with a physical trainer for some good ideas on workouts to get you in shape for your preferred recreation.

I suggest starting out at two or three days a week the first week. Then three to four days afterward. If you want to see quick results, push your effort to just below being out of breath and hold it there for 20 minutes or longer. You may not be able to do that at first, but with consistent workouts, eventually you’ll be there.

The next area to focus on is your core strength and shoulder strength. There are some simple weight machines that help with this. While boring, they do make a difference. I think it helps to make a circuit out of three or four machines (do the circuit two or three times).

Also, the tried and true sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups also work. If you want a fun workout for this part of your body, just go to the rock climbing gym. You’ll have fun and work out at the same time.

While I’m on my soap box, it’s also important to eat real food. What I mean by that is cook your own meals and if possible stay away from processed things (especially soda pop and fast food). Basically, do most of your grocery shopping in the produce department and for basic commodities — careful going into those middle rows of the grocery store. I know in our American world this can be challenging, but the results are transformative.

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Put this event on your calendar: The Avalanche Awareness Night at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at Taylorview Middle School Auditorium in Idaho Falls.

Each year we seem to lose a few snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders to avalanches. With the proper tools, playing in snow country can be made a little safer. This course will introduce you to those tools.

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Here’s an insider tip: The Banff Mountain Film Festival tickets will go on sale this year on Dec. 18. The presenters — the Idaho Falls Nordic Ski Patrol — are waiting a week later this year to offer tickets so that buyers will know what movies are playing each night before they purchase tickets. This is helpful because now the films are played three nights instead of just two and offers different films each night. Stay tuned for more information on this fun event.

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