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Don't Be Left In The Cold

Cold weather, slushy streets and limited daylight can make even the most devoted exerciser and outdoor enthusiast hang up their sneakers until spring.

But as tempting as it is to hibernate during the cold-weather months, there are some great activities that you can do that are specific to the winter months.

Besides the numerous health benefits of healthier hearts, lower blood pressure and stronger bones, winter exercises enhance sleep and providing better spirits, reducing stress, anxiety and depression, all of which are common during the cold winter months.

Nikki Kimbrough, fitness trainer with Bally Total Fitness, provides The Early Show viewers with suggestions on equipment needed for winter sports as well as safety tips on how to have the most fun with the fewest injuries.

Helmets and Goggles:
Make sure you use a helmet to protect your head and goggles to protect your eyes and increase visibility. The helmet should not slide forward or back on head. Goggle design is important. Look for goggles that provide a wider field of vision, excellent ventilation and superior lens clarity as well as protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Ski Equipment:
Downhill skiing burns an average of about 600 calories per hour, but to have the best experience on the mountain, make sure that your boots fit well and are in good shape. Companies offer ski boots that are matched to the skiers' abilities, so make sure that you choose the model appropriately. Go to a reputable store and take time to try the boot on. It should feel
The shaped skis that are available today are easier to tur,n resulting in less fatigue for skiers which translates into more time on the mountain. Skis are now shorter and wider with more surface area that allows for more contact on the snow.

Snowboarding Gear:
There are gloves designed for snowboarding from Akimbo that have a wrist guard built in. There also are loves from Drop that feature a goggle wipe that can be used to clear goggles of snow and ice.

Ice Skating:
Use properly fitted skates and take care of them.Invest in good-quality skates that offer proper ankle support. New skates out of the box are not sharpened. Make sure they are properly sharpened before skating. Skates should be sharpened on average after every 15-20 hours of use.
Use rubber skate guards when walking in the skates so the blades won't get nicked. After skating, wipe the skates with a towel and store them with so-called soakers or towels on the blades. Do not store skates with the rubber guards attached because that will cause the blade to rust.

Dress warmly and appropriately, but don't overdo it. You'll warm up as you skate. Sweatshirts and sweaters with a turtleneck and a lighter jacket are a good option. Wear gloves or mittens and, if you're outdoors, a hat. Do not wear socks that are too thick because they can restrict circulation. If you're in charge of younger children who will be falling a lot, consider dressing them in snow pants, but not a heavy jacket that restricts movement.
Although helmets are not required for taking lessons at most rinks, they are recommended for new skaters. A hockey helmet is best; otherwise, use a properly fitted bike helmet.

Kimbrough also has these general winter fitness tips:

  • Stay Motivated. Focus on what you'll gain by staying active from fall straight through winter. Keep in mind the benefits ,such as shaking off those winter blues, increasing energy levels, reducing stress and anxiety, or making you stronger and in better shape come springtime. Aim to improve specific fitness numbers or train for an early spring event. For extra motivation and support, pair up with your spouse or a friend.
  • Bundle Up for the Outdoors. The colder it is, the more layers you need to wear. As a rule of thumb, you want to feel cool at the beginning of your workout; otherwise you may sweat too much and become chilled. The first layer of clothing closest to your skin should be a thin layer of synthetic material to keep moisture away; avoid cotton that absorbs and holds moisture close to your body. A second layer, necessary in extreme cold weather, should consist of a lightweight, quick-drying material, such as synthetic fleece that provides good insulation. Your final layer is your front-line defense against wind, rain and snow. Choose an outer layer that is breathable, wind-resistant and water-resistant. As the temperature drops, it is crucial to wear a hat to protect head and ears, as 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head. Gloves and mittens should also be worn to protect fingers and hands.
  • Wear Sunscreen. Although it is winter, you still need sure to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
  • Exercise defensively. Since winter conditions are often wet and icy, it is important to be aware of your footing. Plan exercise around daylight hours if possible and wear bright reflective clothing, such as reflective vests, wrist and ankle bands to make you more visible. Running or cycling with a friend is smart for your protection, as well as motivation.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Staying well-hydrated is just as important in winter as in summer. In addition to losses during sweating, more water is lost through breathing in winter's cold dry air.