Winter Fitness 101


Juneau-area Coast Guardsmen take advantage of their lunch breaks to try ice skating in Juneau, Alaska, Jan. 23, 2013. Alaska offers a wide variety of outdoor and indoor fitness activities during the winter. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Alaska isn’t known for doing winter halfway. Days get shorter, the snow gets deep and temperatures plummet. Setting up camp in a toasty living room in front of the television can start to sound really nice. Not so fast, though.

Anyone willing to shrug off climate control’s siren call is likely to find a variety of winter fitness activities that are uniquely Alaskan.

“I would recommend taking the opportunity to try new things,” said Master Chief Petty Officer R.J. Storle, the Coast Guard 17th District Command Master Chief. “Being physically and socially active is an important part of enjoying your tour in Alaska, particularly during the winter months.”

Aside from the typical fishing and hunting activities normally associated with the Last Frontier, Coast Guardsmen and their families can participate in downhill or cross country skiing, sledding, skating, snowshoeing, and even running or hiking.

“There are a lot of trails that are available in Juneau in the winter,” said Chief Petty Officer Andrea Lirette, the 17th District health program manager. “Getting involved in an outdoor program makes winter fitness a lot easier.”

Before you head out to enjoy all Alaska has to offer, make sure you’re taking some necessary safety precautions. Dress in layers, check the weather and always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back. If you are operating in deep snow or backcountry areas, having a personal locator beacon or avalanche beacon is recommended. Consider taking an avalanche safety class provided through local civilian search and rescue groups or ski-areas and never go out alone!

“Stay hydrated and make sure you have plenty of water with you,” said Lirette. “It’s cold, but you will still sweat a lot.”

Lirette also recommends finding a friend with a similar fitness level to add another level of safety to any of your winter activities.

Want to get engaged in winter activities? Ask a shipmate or your local Morale, Well-Being and Recreation office!

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

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