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Dec 10, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TIPS FOR INJURY-FREE HOLIDAYS

You can prevent injuries during the holidays by getting in shape, University of California, Davis, sports medicine experts say. Couch potatoes suddenly hitting the slopes or jogging trails for their annual fun in the winter sun should prepare by getting a bit of exercise first, they advise. Whether you're ready to hit the slopes or lace up some new running shoes, there's a drill you can follow to prevent injuries. For example, the most common injuries for skiers are knee sprains, thumb sprains and shoulder injuries. For snowboarders, injuries to the wrist, shoulder and head are the most typical. So before heading out, add some ski-specific workouts to your daily routine. Start carefully, pay attention to your age and abilities and don't expect to shed pounds or set records without a little disciplined work and time, specialists advise.

RESPONSIBLE HOLIDAY CHEER

'Tis the season to be jolly -- and responsible when it comes to drinking and driving, University of California, Davis, experts say. Seasonal spirits abound this time of the year, at office parties, open houses and private celebrations, meaning a significantly higher number of tipsy drivers on the road. Trauma prevention experts say to help prevent drunken driving: collect your guests' car keys when they arrive; always serve food when serving alcohol; make available measuring jiggers at the bar; use a non-carbonated base, such as fruit juice, for alcoholic punch; serve non-alcoholic beverages; stop serving alcohol about two hours before the party is over.

HOLIDAY TIPS FOR MEMORY-IMPAIRED

San Diego experts say seniors with memory or behavioral problems can enjoy the holidays with some good planning. Dr. Daniel Sewell, director of the Senior Behavioral Health Unit at the University of California, San Diego, Medical Center, advises: limit the activities or length of time in which a person vulnerable to overstimulation is included; establish a quiet room in the home where he or she can take a quiet break; budget in a nap time; assign a family member to be a companion for the day; if the get-together is in the home of the person with the impairment, don't rearrange the furniture; don't put out a lot of finger foods, like sweets, especially if the individual has a problem with impulse control; limit or eliminate alcohol consumption; break down complicated tasks and involve the impaired person in simple tasks, such as greasing a cooking pan or peeling potatoes; engage everyone in reminiscing; avoid embarrassing criticism.

RESOLVE TO BE MODERATE

Virginia Tech professor Julie Ozanne advises holiday revelers to take a moderate approach, neither shopping shop 'til they drop nor shunning all materialism. "Both are extreme positions that miss the point that consuming can range from being wonderful and delightful to horrible and onerous," she says. Ozanne advocates a moderate approach, one that is more likely to change consumer behavior beyond the holidays. "Become more reflective about your consumption," she advises. "Assess your purchases. Enjoy those that truly give pleasure and vigorously cut out those that are empty." Becoming a more reflective consumer, she says, will also help shoppers avoid getting deeper into debt over the holidays.

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Editors: For more information about INJURY, call (916) 734-9040. For CHEER, (916) 734-9040. For MEMORY, Sue Pondrom at (619) 543-6163. For RESOLVE, Sookhan Ho at (540) 231-5071 or sookhan@vt.edu

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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