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Downhill Gliders

Simple measures reduce injury risk for skiing and snowboarding

SUNDAY, Jan. 2, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Skiing and snowboarding have a reputation for being dangerous sports, but they don't have to be if you take some simple precautions.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade group of ski area owners and operators, about 34 people a year have died in skiing or boarding accidents during the past 17 years. But in 2000, 7.4 million skiers and 4.3 million boarders hit the slopes in the United States.

To stay safe, experts recommend getting into shape before you hit the slopes. Concentrate on improving cardiovascular conditioning with activities such as jogging. Boost muscle strength with weight training. Consider a conditioning class a month or two before the season starts.

If you're a new or a returning skier, take a lesson or two before you venture out.

Buy or rent sturdy equipment in good condition. Most important, experts say, is to have good ski bindings. The bindings have improved in the past six or so years, so if yours are older than that, you should upgrade.

Eye protection, such as sunglasses or goggles, can help you ski and see better. Helmets are advised.

At ski areas, operators emphasize a responsibility code. It suggests staying in control, giving those ahead of you on the slopes the right of way, stopping in a safe place, observing signs and warnings, and knowing how to use the lifts properly, among other measures.

Injuries of the shoulder, knee and thumb are common; if these areas are painful after skiing or boarding, get medical help.

More information

For information on ski and snowboard safety, see National Safety Council.

SOURCES: National Ski Areas Association; National Safety Council
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