1. Relatively inexpensive – With any sport there are start up costs. Skis, boots, and poles must be purchased, but after that there are very few expenses. Some trails require a fee, but many are free.
  2. Clears the mind – This is a hybrid of number 7, 5, 2, and 1. Participating in a fun workout in the beautiful peaceful snowy woods equals peace of mind.
  3. No bugs – I have never been bitten by a mosquito while cross-country skiing.
  4. The woods are rarely more beautiful – Arguably the only time the forest is more beautiful is in the autumn with the change of the leaves. Even though there are no leaves on the trees the woods are lovely dark and deep as Robert Frost would say.
  5. Cross-country skiing is low impact – Legs do not pound the pavement like they do when out for a run. Instead skiers glide with grace over snow capped trails. Crashes do occur, but the snow helps break the fall. I have never been really sore or injured from a day on skis.
  1. Solitude – Cross-country ski trails are great for getting away from civilization for a short time. Even on the busiest ski weekends of the year it is possible to find peace and quiet in the forest at least for certain moments. On the Yellow Loop in Deer Grove Forest Preserve on Saturday there were hordes of skiers out, but a few times I found myself alone in the woods.
  2. It is not as cold as you think – Even on brutal cold days with below 0 degree temperatures it can be comfortable on skis. Dress accordingly of course, but after a half hour on the trails even the hands warm up. Plus, many ski trails meander through forests and hills which offer protection from blistering cold winds.
  3. Perfect cure for cabin fever – Many limit their outdoor activities during the winter and hunker down in front of the TV. Although comfortable at times, this can get old quick. Football can help cabin fever, but this ends in early February and old man winter lingers for another couple of months.  Get in the car and drive to the nearest ski trail or farthest and put on skis and go.
  4. Cross-country skiing is fun – Many perceive cross-country skiing as boring. Those with this mindset picture cross-country skiing similar to walking and very monotonous. Some trails do fit this image, but get on a fun trail in Kettle Moraine where the trail takes you up and down hills and turns through wooded forests and prairies and it can then be quite a thrill.
  5. Cross-country skiing is a great workout – Some have called cross-country skiing the number one aerobic workout. This is why fitness machines which imitate the exercise have become popular. Skiing is a lot like swimming. It does not always feel like an intense workout, but when done the whole body can feel numb. This is because cross-country skiing is a full body workout. Legs and arms cooperate with lungs to propel forward through snow.

This New Year’s treat yourself to a new hobby, sport, exercise and get out in the woods and enjoy.