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Luskin: Blue Wax Days

01/25/12 7:55AM By Deborah Luskin
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(Host) Commentator Deborah Luskin believes there are health benefits to cold and snow.

(Luskin) I’m self-employed. That means I can set my own hours; so when it finally snowed halfway through January, I took the morning off and waxed my cross-country skis. Blue wax for moderately cold, new snow, when skiing is at its best.

The trails at the Outing Club had been groomed but were perfectly untracked, and I was completely alone. I huffed along, always a bit creaky the first time out, but struggling this year after suffering three back-to-back colds. That’s as many as I’d had in the previous decade.

Not only didn’t it snow until mid-January, but it didn’t even freeze. Usually, an open winter will at least be cold enough for natural ice, but I managed only one afternoon of mediocre skating. The only things that seemed to flourish were the viral infections that landed in my chest.

The only way I could account for this lapse in my good health was bad luck, or maybe it was going to the gym, which I’d joined out of desperation. The winter started out as such a dud, I was pumping iron instead of playing in the snow. It was the only thing I was doing differently, and I’d been pretty careful about wiping down the weights and machines both before and after use. Besides, I don’t even believe in the germ theory. I believe in the folk wisdom of the Old Timers, who say that open winters breed illness; because when it finally snowed, I got well – well enough to ski.

That first morning out, I skied into the sun, happy to be blinded by the light bouncing off the snow, which drifted over the landscape like sand, as if I were crossing a desert. I was grateful for the cool temp and slight breeze, which kept me from overheating.

I stopped frequently, both because I was easily winded after being sick and because I was once again stunned by the beauty of winter: the blue sky, the clear air, the bright cleanliness of new snow. I lasted only about an hour, yet in that short time I regained my health. The cold scoured my lungs and freeze-dried my sinuses. The sunlight pumped me full of vitamin D. But, more than any medical theory, I’m positive that being active outdoors is what cured me.

Sure. I’ll keep up my good health habits: frequent hand washing, lots of liquids, plenty of rest. But I’ll also rearrange my work schedule: I'll get up so early I'll arrive at my desk in the dark and return to write there at night. In short, I’ll do whatever it takes to care for my health. That means being ready to take advantage of skiing every perfect, blue wax day.
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