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Winter Sports

Sleds, snowshoes and more

Winter sports are defined as those that require snow, ice and/or cold temperatures to play, rather than sports such as basketball whose professional seasons run during the winter but can actually be played year-round. They offer a way to make the most of the year's coldest weather and help you stay active during a season that normally drives people indoors.

Popular Winter Sports

Ice hockey, skiing and figure staking rank among the most popular organized winter sports. However, many of the most beloved outdoor winter activities are relatively informal and emphasize fun over competition; sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating and snowshoeing are all easily recognizable examples.

Part of the appeal of these activities is that they cost very little to participate in. Though skiing and snowboarding gear can get pricey, sleds, toboggans and snowshoes are very affordable, and you require very little other than warm clothing to enjoy these activities.

Outdoor Safety During Winter

Regardless of your winter sport of choice, if you're going to be outdoors, you have to be very careful in cold weather. Even if temperatures are above the freezing mark, prolonged exposure to the cold can have serious consequences, so bundle up and minimize your amount of exposed skin.

Hypothermia can easily become a life-threatening medical condition, and help might be very far away if you've headed off into a remote area for a day of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing and get lost or injure yourself. Thus, you should make sure you always have a reliable means of contacting help if you need it. Bringing a charged cell phone will suffice unless you're heading somewhere very remote where cell phone service may be spotty or unavailable. In that case, a satellite phone is recommended.

Remember that you can still get sunburned in cold weather. Ultraviolet radiation levels can be high in winter and are a concern anytime the sun is out, so protect exposed skin if you're going to be outdoors for a long period of time on a sunny winter day.

Finally, remember to stay hydrated. Many people erroneously associate thirst with hot weather, but you can become dehydrated just as quickly in the winter as you can in the summer (more quickly, in some cases, because of the dry air and thick clothing you'll be wearing). If you're going on an extended outdoor jaunt, make sure to bring plenty of water or other hydrating beverages with you.