We are in the mountains once again to enjoy the snow, the sun and the fresh air. Every year, European families spend at least a week in some winter get away to do winter sports and enjoy nature. I moved in Europe almost 20 years ago but I never went on winter holidays until I had a family of my own. In many parts of North America, winter holidays are kind of a luxury despite the many beautiful ski resorts in the US and Canada. Here is Switzerland, almost everybody does it. You can go to the high-end resorts like St. Moritz or Gstaadt or you can go to simpler, down-to-earth places. You can get there by helicopter, by car or by train or by bus, depending on your budget. You can check-in in a five-star hotel or rent a 1-room apartment. Or you can commute up every morning and come down again every evening. In other words, winter sports and holidays are for everyone, not only the well-off. It is part of the culture of this country to be active, summer or winter.
So here we are, a family of 4 squeezed in a 4-bed hotel room without TV or phone. But the ski lift is just a stone’s throw away and we get free entry to the local indoor pool. The local bus is for free and the apfel strudel is just scrumptious! The kids can ski the whole day and I can go snow shoe walking. What more can I ask?
When I first ventured out into the winter cold, I did not know a thing about winter gear and how to protect myself from the elements. Nowadays I know better how to dress myself and my little boys. Here are the recommendations from the American Heart Association Start! Walking This Winter brochure:
- · The first layer (the layer closest to your body) should be thin and made of synthetic fibers (not cotton) that draw sweat away from your body.
- · The second layer should provide insulation, be lightweight and dry quickly (such as a fleece or sweatshirt).
- · The last layer should protect you from the elements.
Cover your head and ears or use a face mask to protect yourself from cold and wind. Your hands and feet are the farthest points from your heart and are the least insulated. Gloves or mittens and wool socks insulate and wick moisture away.
In addition, sturdy walking shoes are of utmost importance:
- · Choose shoes with thick, flexible soles that cushion your feet and absorb shock for the rest of your body.
- · Make sure your shoes fit comfortably. Buy the right size.
- · Replace your shoes every six months, even if they still look nice. You’ll want shoes that provide full support in the soles to protect your joints and arches as you walk
These recommendations, by the way, are not only for the mountains in winter time. It applies for winter outdoors in general.