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Winter Workouts Are Cool

Tips on having fun, staying fit in the snowy season

SATURDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Outdoor exercise in the winter can be wonderful as long as you take a few simple precautions, says the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).

The group offers some tips on how to stay active and safe during cold weather workouts:

  • Warm up and cool down. Cold weather constricts muscles, so you need to allow enough time for proper stretching to warm up muscles before you exercise. Cooling down with stretches helps keep you limber and flexible. For best results, hold leg, arm and calf stretches for 30 seconds each.
  • Wear proper-fitting shoes or boots that prevent your feet from getting wet and cold. Footwear made with GORE-TEX and similar materials are a good choice.
  • Consume foods and beverages that will help fuel your body for cold weather activities, such as whole grain breads, nuts and sports drinks.
  • With the proper clothing, you can continue your summer activities such as running or walking during the winter.
  • Winter sports, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating, are great aerobic activities that help tone the arms and legs for spring.
  • Shoveling snow can be great exercise. Start slowly to build endurance and follow proper technique -- your feet and shoulders should face the shovel in order to avoid injuries to the back, neck and shoulders.
  • If you find it too outdoor exercise too tough in the winter, join a gym or head to a mall for a brisk walk.

"Create a workout regimen that will keep you motivated, energized and physically active throughout the winter months," Marjorie J. Albohm, NATA president, said in an association news release. "Set your own fitness goals so you have a real sense of accomplishment -- and some fun -- from your winter activities."

You should always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine or if you have pre-existing health conditions, the NATA said.

More information

The American Fitness Professionals & Associates has more about winter exercise.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: National Athletic Trainers' Association, news release, December, 2008

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