Ice skating: cold days, warm core

Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:00am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - ‘Tis the season when the days grow short, the wind blows fierce, and sleet-covered streets discourage that early morning jog.

So why not lace up?

Experts say ice skating is a whole body workout sure to chase those winter blues away, whether you're up for a solo glide, a get together with pals, a family outing or a first date.

"Being outside in brisk air, there's nothing that speaks to fun exercise more than that," said Dawn Malone, a skating director and coach for 35 years. "Even if you go out once a week for an hour, there are incredible benefits in cardio-vascular, core strength and balance."

You don't even have to wait for the pond to freeze over. During the holiday season, New York, London, Chicago and Paris are just a few of the major cities that install temporary ice rinks amid their Christmas trees and colored lights.

Technological improvements have made these urban oases possible, according to Malone, spokesperson for the Ice Skating Institute, the trade association that created the first learn-to-skate program in the 1960's.

"The only outdoor facilities I saw in my younger years were ones that were naturally frozen," she said.

Ice skating is thought to have originated at least 1000 years ago when people in Scandinavia and the Netherlands laced animal bones to their footwear to transport themselves across frozen canals and waterways.   Continued...