DALLAS - Does a chill in the air make you want to curl up underneath a blanket by the fire? With the right preparation, you can embrace the elements while staying active and healthy. Here are some tips from experts and enthusiasts on how to safely savor some chilly season activities.

COLD-WEATHER RUNNING

Andi Smith, 44, describes herself as a warm-weather runner, although she has a fondness for the winter months.

"There truly is nothing better than a nice, brisk morning run or an afternoon run. Those first few steps walking out the front door when it's cold and dark, you don't want to go. But then you get that crisp morning air, which is so much clearer and cleaner in the winter. It's lovely, just lovely."


Smith is a pediatric nurse practitioner at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. The marathon veteran will coach as many as 45 aspiring marathoners.

Often, she says, first-timers will start training during the summer and then panic as the temperature drops in the fall. She calms them down and shares tips that include:

  • Keep your hands warm: "If my hands are warm, I'm golden. If my hands are cold, I'm totally miserable." She recommends mittens on really cold days "because your fingers stay warmer when they're together."

  • Have layers to shed: "I have sleeveless shirts that I wear underneath a thicker long-sleeved shirt. Then I use one more layer to block the wind. I can wear regular tights or cold tights with fleecy lining if it's very cold."

  • Stretch: "During the summertime, I'm feeling pretty loose in five or 10 minutes, but in the winter it takes 15-20 minutes. Start your run slowly if you're training. If it's a race, do little 50-meter sprints back and forth several times before the gun goes off."

ICE SKATING

Theresa Cinciripini, 30, has been figure skating five years and competes four or five times a year.

"Dallas is a great place to skate because there are so many rinks. I've met a lot of cool people, made friends and stayed in shape," she says. Sometimes she thinks she's too tired to do it after work, but then the chilly air gets her going where she trains.

"It wakes you up and encourages you to keep moving. You can't stay by the side of the rink or you will get cold."

She also tries to help others on the ice, particularly the girls that she sees freezing in their skating outfits.

"I've helped some parents when I see them with their poor little 5-year-old who is wearing an outfit with normal tights and freezing. I tell them you need to buy the special skating tights and a sweater to wear over the skating dress."

Cinciripini's top tips (including a few from figure-skating coaches Christy Malacrea and Allana Dutton Felder):