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Fit Bits: Kiss Dry Goodbye

Fit Bits: Kiss Dry Goodbye

Fitness
By Molly Tarbet
posted: 12/14/2000

Like liftlines and icy roads, dry, itchy skin is a common winter phenomenon we'd rather avoid. The culprit of "winter itch" is low humidity, which keeps the skin from taking in enough moisture, says Robert R. Walther, M.D., clinical professor and vice chair of dermatology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Because this type of dry skin is due to lack of water, not oil, it's important to stay well hydrated and apply an oil-free moisturizer twice a day. Walther recommends the "three-minute rule": applying an oil-free lotion within three minutes of bathing to trap water in the skin before it evaporates.

Also, avoid extreme hot and cold temperatures, and protect your skin from the wind and sun. The key is to prevent winter itch before it starts, because if your skin starts to resemble an alligator's, you may need to forgo some prime skier comforts-such as the Jacuzzi, hot showers and sitting in front of the fireplace-that can exacerbate the problem. -molly tarbet

Forget Jenny Craig
If you're looking to shed a few pounds, skiing at high altitude may be just the fix. At elevations above 8,000 feet, your metabolism increases while your appetite and sensitivity to taste decrease, leading to weight loss, says E. Wayne Askew, Ph.D., professor and director of the University of Utah Division of Foods and Nutrition. The boost in metabolism can raise the amount of calories you need anywhere from 15 to 50 percent from what you need at sea level.

But that shouldn't be taken as carte blanche to live off chili-cheese fries. To keep skiing strong at altitude, experts recommend eating a healthy diet, supplemented with iron and vitamins C and E. Both iron and vitamin E help you maintain body temperature, while vitamin C boosts your immune system and aids in iron absorption. Iron is key at altitude because it allows blood cells to carry more oxygen to muscles. The result? You're less tired at the bottom of your favorite run.

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