The Winter Olympics inspires kids to hit the ice, but it should also nudge women to take up a new hobby as well, a North Texas doctor says.
"All ladies need to move, need to keep healthy, need to keep flexible, and ice skating is one way they can do that," said Dr. Alison Dobbie, chair of family and community medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "If you take it up, you'll end up leaner, stronger, more flexible -- and it's really good for the bones which is important for ladies of a certain age."
"I'm 50 and I'm quite happy to be 50, because the alternative is much worse," she said. "I took it (ice skating) up again a few years ago because I wanted a form of exercise I could really enjoy."
Retired Dallas Independent School District teacher Cecelia Mason also took up the sport later in life.
"I took my first lesson at 47, and I've been on and off the ice ever since," said Mason. "I'm over 60, happily, and I'm still vertical."
The breast cancer survivor credits skating with improving her body and mind.
"This is one of those weight-bearing exercises that keep your bones strong. It's also very good for your balance," Mason said. "It keeps your brain engaged and your body engaged, because I would be in a lot worse shape."
Mason admits, though, she has had a few bad falls.
"I've had two concussions spinning, and I dislocated a shoulder," she said. "But I dislocated the other one playing tennis, so it's not a biggie."
But those incidents are why Dobbie and skating coach Terry Tunks insist first-time skaters take lessons.
"If you take up figure skating for the first time as an adult, you probably shouldn't do it alone," Dobbie said. "You should have a professional with you, help you learn how to skate, get comfortable on the ice. That's just the same if you went to the gym. You wouldn't start working on those heavy weights and machines without asking a personal trainer to show you how to do it."
"We need to do it right," said Tunks, who teaches adults. "Start slow. Work with a coach. All the rinks have people available to help. Very small steps at first. Get used to hand-holding; we do that a lot."
They encouraged women to overcome the fear and find the fun.
"I want them to know if you ever dreamed of being an ice princess, but thought it was too late -- well, it's not too late," said Dobbie.