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Don't Blame the Season

Two separate 2005 studies have shown that season plays a fairly small role in determining the level of people's physical activity. In an American study, published in the American Journal of Health Behavior, the number of physically active individuals varied only 4 percent between summer (48 percent) and winter (44 percent). It should be of some comfort to Canadians to know that people in the northern regions fared much better than their subtropical counterparts.

In a Scottish study, published in Pediatric Exercise Science, researchers found that children's activity levels were barely affected by the season. In fact, participants engaged in more physical activity during winter than they did in summer. Both studies, however, suggest that the population, in general, engaged in inadequate levels of physical activity regardless of the time of year.

Include some winter activity in your life. Affordable outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and tobogganing are fun and healthy for the whole family.

Walking in a Winter Water-Land

Winter officially arrives this month, but, as many of us know, the cold weather doesn't mean we have to cut back on our activity levels. While exercising during the winter, a time when most of Canada experiences very low humidity, it is especially important to drink enough water.

There are a few reasons people don't like to drink a lot of fluid during winter activities. Anyone who has had to peel off layers of ski clothes or pieces of hockey equipment knows what a nuisance it is to urinate. The biggest problem, though, is that many of us don't think it's as necessary to drink water when it is cold outside.

This, of course, is completely false. The cold, dry air actually causes our bodies to use a great deal of water to moisten and warm the air before it reaches our lungs. Every time we exhale, that cloud of water vapour carries away a little more of our body's water stores. We also sweat a great deal when we wear heavy outdoor clothes while doing strenuous activity such as shovelling snow.

Those of us who prefer to stay cozy indoors need to make sure we drink enough water as well. The dry, heated air from furnaces and fireplaces can cause skin to dry out. So let's keep knocking back those eight glasses of water a day (more if you're active), and enjoy the bracing cold of the Canadian winter.



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