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5 Best Winter Sports to Try

Ice Hockey

If you like group activities, ice hockey may be the perfect winter sport.

Michael Bracko, director of the Institute for Hockey Research, says, "It’s fun in the dressing room before getting on the ice, and it’s usually an absolute riot after the game. Everyone is having fun and making jokes and making fun of each other."

Aside from the camaraderie, the sport exercises the same groups of muscles as other types of ice skating do. That includes the lower body and abdominals, which maintain balance, and the upper body, which is used to move the hockey stick.

Bracko says most players spend a minute to one-and-a-half minutes on the ice, then rest on the side for 2 to 4 minutes. While playing, a person’s heart rate can get as high as 190, he says, and when off the ice, the body is burning calories to recover.

To get the best return from playing hockey, Bracko recommends playing one league game a week and also playing a couple of pickup games two more times a week.

Bracko notes that people with a known heart problem or high blood pressure should wear a heart rate monitor so they know if they need to slow down during a game. They should also check with their doctor before signing up for ice hockey.

And, as with other sports, it's important to get plenty of fluids.

"Without question, make sure to stay well hydrated, and do so before playing," Bracko says. "Don’t wait until after the game to get hydrated, and don’t use beer as post [hockey] hydration." Alcohol promotes fluid loss.

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Reviewed on November 22, 2012

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