Beat the Lazy Season
Stay on Track
Think of Gym Alternatives
Some people, like Chandler's husband, are dedicated gym-goers,
and they shouldn't be affected much by the weather. However, the lingering
darkness in the morning and the early evenings can sap even the hardiest
gym-bunny's motivation to hit the health club. If that's your problem, you may
need a contingency plan. Cardinal himself has exercise equipment at home -- a
stair climber, stationary bike, and exercise videos that he rotates through --
to use when it's hard to get outdoors or to the gym. If you do exercise at
home, though, do whatever you can to make it entertaining, says Cotton. You
might, for instance, place a TV in front of a home treadmill so you don't get
This is the time, too, to call on your friends. Even if you
usually exercise alone, you may need someone to help keep you motivated. Many
studies have shown that social support helps keep people active, says James F.
Sallis, PhD, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who
studies exercise motivation. Reconfiguring your schedule is another possible
solution. If cold and darkness discourages you from morning exercise, try to
take a brisk walk or an exercise class during your lunch hour.
And if You Backslide ...
Sometimes there is no getting around the environmental barriers
that hinder exercise, and you may have to settle for less. "If you're going
to slip, try to at least do aerobic exercise three times a week," says
Cotton. "If you think about exercising on one of the weekdays, say,
Wednesday, then on both days over the weekend, that's really not too
And studies show that decreasing the number of days you
exercise doesn't hurt if you maintain the same intensity and time. For
instance, in the early 1980s, researchers at the University of Illinois at
Chicago had 12 exercisers run and cycle for 40 minutes a day, six days a week,
at a moderately high intensity. After 10 weeks, their regimens were reduced to
either two or four days, though they maintained the same pace and total
duration. When tested 15 weeks later, all of the exercisers maintained the same
aerobic capacity as when they were exercising six days.