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Getting out of the Christmas sweater and into the gym

By Danielle Casey Staff Writer

As the fall semester is coming to an end, the days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler and the idea of finals is becoming ever more stressful. As a result, you may be slacking in the exercise department. On a cold, snowy day you are probably tempted to skip your workout and wrap yourself up in blankets while sipping hot chocolate.

As the seasons change, it is still important to go outside and get some fresh air. The essential nutrient of calcium can only be absorbed if you get enough vitamin D, of which the sun is a huge source. Enjoying the outdoors this winter does not have to be painfully torturous. I am going to go out on a limb and say that it can even be rewarding and even fun.

Skiing and snowboarding are not activities exclusive to the Flying Tomato and other Olympians. As long as you do not get in over your head and you start at an appropriate level for your ability, skiing or snowboarding can be a safe and fulfilling activity to stay fit this winter.

Downhill skiing can help strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and hip and feet muscles. Due to the nature of this sport, your balance, flexibility and agility will be inadvertently improved. An especially great bonus is that all of these benefits can be obtained without straining your back muscles, tendons or joints.

Snowboarding uses your leg and feet muscles just as skiing does. In addition, due to the great deal of balance that snowboarding requires, this sport works your abdominal muscles. Because balance is essential, snowboarding can take some time to perfect. The time spent trying to master this skill will definitely be advantageous to your health.

When you think of ice skating, you may think of couples slowly shuffling around the ice rink next to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Ice skating can actually strengthen your hips, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. If you are not planning on going pro then it should be a pretty low-impact activity. Ice skating can improve your flexibility, quickness and agility. You can also burn a good amount of calories, expending energy as you skate around the ice rink, all while spending some quality time with friends. You do not necessarily have to be the best skater, but you are moving and that is what is important.

You do not have to go into hibernation for the next four months. Instead of fearing the cold weather ahead, you should embrace it. You cannot hit the slopes at just any time of year. Although the sun may not feel particularly strong while you are surrounded by ice and snow, the same hazards of strong rays still exist. As always, wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.


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