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How to Keep Working Out In The Winter

It's not always easy, but it can be done with some simple adjustments.
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Does this sound like you? During the summer, you're a workout fiend, perhaps swimming, running, hiking under the warm sun, keeping that body healthy and in ship -- or beach -- shape. Or maybe you're a little less vigilant, but you still like to hit the gym every other day.

 

Then, it happens: daylight-saving time ends, and you find it hard to get out of bed and by nightfall, you're more interested in curling up with a book than running.

 

The winter months can be brutal for some people's fitness routines, says Bradley Cardinal, PhD, an exercise physiologist at Oregon State University. He once prepared a case study of a man in his mid 30s who lives in the northern U.S. Each year, the man was active from July through November, but then found his activity level would drop off for the rest of the year. While Cardinal cautions against reading too much from the study of one person, he believes that most people's activity levels fluctuate, largely because of environmental factors. "It's a lot easier to get out and exercise when the weather is warm," he says.

Working Through Colder Weather

If you're an outdoor exerciser who has slacked off in the past when the temperature dropped, you may not have been giving yourself enough time to acclimate. "When people who live in Washington, D.C., go on vacation to Florida in the winter, it's harder for them to exercise because they're not used to the heat," says Richard Cotton, PhD, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. "And the reverse is true, too. It takes time to get used to different temperatures, no matter if you're going from hot to cold or vice versa."

 

To acclimate, of course, you'll have to keep working out through the cold -- a bit of a Catch-22. It will be easier to make yourself go outside, though, says Cotton, if you warm up inside first. "Take five to 10 minutes and do some low level aerobic exercise like jogging in place or doing jumping jacks," he advises. "That way, when you step outside, you'll already be warm." Dressing properly can also help. Wear layers so that you can peel them off as your body temperature increases.

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