Every year, more than 14 million Americans, many of them seniors, take to the slopes. Aware of their senior clientele, several resorts now offer seasoned skiers discounts on lodging, transportation, lift tickets, ski equipment rentals and more.

As with any sport, accidents occur and some skiers, even seasoned veterans, experience injuries. Unfortunately, many of these accidents can be attributed to carelessness. This year, as you take to the slopes, make certain your experience is a safe one.

Follow these tips:

Get in shape. Start exercising four to six weeks before your ski trip. Aerobic exercises, such as running, bicycling and skating, are excellent ways to improve your conditioning. Leg strength is especially important. To build up your leg muscles, do weight-lifting exercises, such as leg extensions and squats.

Take ski lessons. No matter if you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, learning from a professional is crucial. If you are just starting, a ski instructor will teach you the proper technique, including the best way to fall. They will also help you move through the novice ranks more quickly. If you are advanced, an instructor will help refine your skills.

Warm up. Spend at least 15 minutes warming up before you go up on the ski lift. Go for a walk, jog in place or do some jumping jacks. Stretch your calves, hamstrings and lower back muscles. Skiing is a strenuous activity, so take a few runs on the easy slopes to loosen up and give your body time to adjust. Then try out the harder slopes.

Check your ski equipment. You can be in tip-top shape, but if your equipment is worn or broken, you risk injury. Inspect each piece of equipment thoroughly and replace any that needs it. If you have gained or lost weight, make sure you have your equipment adjusted to your new size by an expert.

Listen to your body. If you get cold, go inside and warm up. If you get tired, take a break and rest. If you get hungry, eat—but make sure your meals are nutritional and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid alcohol and medications that could make you drowsy, impair your senses and make you more susceptible to the cold.

Pay attention to your surroundings. Follow all trail signs and watch out for other skiers. If possible, ski with a partner and stay within sight of each other. Take note of the weather and be prepared for any adverse conditions. Stay within designated areas and avoid risky games, like cat-and-mouse. More importantly, don’t be a daredevil. Only go on the slopes that you can handle.

Dress appropriately. Wear layers, so you can easily remove items should you become too warm. Put on gloves to prevent frostbite and a hat to decrease the rapid loss of heat through the head. Lather on some sunscreen to prevent sunburn and wear ski goggles to protect your eyes from the glare of the snow.

These tips apply not only to seniors but to anyone planning to take to the slopes. As long as you play it safe, you can indulge your passion for skiing and enjoy all of its benefits injury-free.

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