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Get Active at the Madison Winter Festival

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Enjoying winter activitiesMADISON – Joseph Cline, MD, has been medical director of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Emergency Department for more than 20 years. During that time, he has seen the disturbing trends towards obesity in young people. Cline is also one of the founders and principal organizers of the Madison Winter Festival – and his two roles have a lot to do with each other.

Now entering its fourth year, the Madison Winter Festival brings people together to celebrate the season and to get active through competitive and recreational winter sports. This year, the festival will be held February 2-3 around the Capitol Square in downtown Madison.

Dr. Cline’s commitment to the event stems from his concerns about health trends in this country.

"Our medical science is the finest in the world, yet, for the first time in history, our youngest generation has a shorter life expectancy than the generation preceding it," he says. "Only widespread lifestyle and cultural change will bring our quality of life back. Our citizens desperately need our positive encouragement and example…just to get out of the house—and bring their kids with them!"

There will be plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to get out and be active with events, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, even snow sculpting competitions. One hundred truck loads of snow, provided by Tyrol Basin snowmakers, will be brought in for the weekend’s activities.

UW Health, a major sponsor since the festival’s beginning, will also be the presenting sponsor for the cross-country skiing Super Tour Classic Sprint competitions as well as the "Fit City Kids" event where children from Boys and Girls clubs and neighborhood centers will be able to learn to ski. Kids will even have a chance to "Ski with the Stars" with two Olympic gold medalists joining in the festivities.

Dr. Cline points out that cross-country skiing and showshoeing are healthy because "they are low-impact, easy on the joints and improve your core strength, which helps balance and prevents injury. They also improve your cardiac fitness."

Even just being a spectator can be beneficial, as Dr. Cline says, "[The festival] is not televised – to watch, you must get off the couch."

For more information about the Madison Winter Festival or to register for events, visit

To learn more ways to be active all winter long, visit for information about the many programs to help you and your family develop and maintain healthy habits.

Date Published: 02/20/2008

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