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    8 Winter Steps for Healthy Living

    Don't hibernate -- take advantage of winter to take stock and improve your health.

    4. On Guard! For Your Teeth

    Winter sports may nudge you out of hibernation, but they carry a real risk of tooth trauma if you take a spill when skiing, skating, or boarding.

    Consider a sport guard -- a device that looks like a bleaching tray but is thick rubber. Put it over your upper teeth, and there is less risk of breakage -- or big dental bills. Custom-made models are about $75 to $150; over-the-counter, about $10.

    5. Winterize Those Eyes

    There's no winter vacation from eye protection. Wear ski goggles when skiing and sunglasses when outdoors to protect your eyes from UV rays. Look for eyewear that blocks 100% UVA and UVB. If you're unsure about whether your glasses block the rays sufficiently, take them to your eye doctor, who can check their UV protection level.

    6. Assess Your Heart Health

    Winter's the season of love -- what with all the holidays and Valentine's Day -- so get serious with yourself and assess your heart health.

    Ask your doctor to measure your personal health numbers and tell you the results: blood pressure, height, weight, waist circumference, blood cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose. Ask where you need improvement. Then pick one thing as your winter project. For instance, improve your diet in a small way, such as making your plate more colorful with a range of fruits and vegetables.

    7. Alcohol: Think of Your Heart

    Winter's a time for heartier meals, such as stews, and red wine is a perfect accompaniment (unless you are pregnant or should not drink for health or other reasons). Red wine is a concentrated source of antioxidants shown to help heart health.

    If you're invited to many winter parties, pace your drinking of red wine or other alcoholic beverages by having a seltzer or sparkling water in between each. You'll stay sober and cut your alcohol intake at the same time.

    8. Sleep: Stay Cool

    Resist the urge to crank up the thermostat to tropical levels during a chilly winter's eve. To ensure good sleep, keep your bedroom temperature at 65 or 70 F. And don't overload the blankets. Lower temperatures are more conductive to good-quality sleep.

    These eight strategies may have you re-thinking winter as the season of stagnation. Try one tip or plunge into all eight. It'll be spring before you know it!

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