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Diet Detective: Nine tips for winter health, fitness

There are many fun ways to burn some calories.

Monday, February 14, 2011 - 10:04 am

Here are nine tips for winter health and fitness:

1. Play video games. Yes, that's right. Video games such as Dancetown or Wii Fit can burn calories.

The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that the average heart rate during a video game session was similar to the heart rate during strength training. But keep in mind, if you want to burn calories, you need to make sure the game involves the entire body, not just the upper body.

2. Buy a treadmill from the classifieds You can get a very good treadmill by looking online at sites such as eBay and Craigslist. Do your research to find good-quality units, and make sure to test one first. Recently, I was able to buy a $4,000 treadmill for about $600. The best way to make sure you'll use it is to watch TV or do something special only during your treadmill time, such as watch a favorite TV show.

3. Try an at-home (no equipment) workout from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). I really like the idea of getting in shape without using any equipment. ACE provides a challenging total-body workout that can be done in the comfort of home with no equipment other than your own body weight. See:

4. Try interesting indoor activities, such as a company or plant tour. Many companies offer tours of their facilities that are a great way to get exercise and see something interesting. Or walk a shopping mall for 30 minutes at moderate speed. Think twice before you chow down at the food court.

5. Soup it up. Soup is a great way to warm up and fill up. Researchers have shown that eating low-calorie soup really does help you lose weight. Keep an eye on portions and sodium — no more than 120 calories per bowl.

6. Make sure you do not slip. The journal Accident Analysis and Prevention analyzed the wintertime effects of using anti-slip devices. According to the research, which looked at Swedish pedestrians, sby using appropriate anti-slip devices people avoid having slips and falls. Try Yaktrax Walkers ($20 at They're easy to use that you can slip right over any flat boot or shoe whenever there's snow or ice around.

7. Winter activities burn calories. There are plenty of calorie-burning activities you can do outside in the winter: skating, sledding, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, hiking and snowshoeing.

8. Remember, safety first. Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin, a professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, has a few tips for a healthy skiing, snowboarding and ice skating experience: Take a lesson. For beginners, it is important to learn how to stop safely. Wear a helmet and other protective gear, such as wrist guards, if skiing or snowboarding. Wear warm clothing with multiple layers that can be shed if you get wet or too hot. Wear appropriately sized gear that has been maintained and checked by a professional. Go with a friend. Get in shape before you ski or snowboard. Know when to call it a day. Many skiing and snowboarding injuries occur on the last run of the day. Use designated areas only.

9. Buy or rent a fitness DVD. There are thousands of great workout DVDs from which to choose.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of