How to Keep Working Out In The Winter
It's not always easy, but it can be done with some simple adjustments.
Think of Gym Alternatives
Some people 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-lover'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 too bored.
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.
If you weight train, you may be able to cut back with little
repercussion, too. In a study published in the December 1992 issue of
Spine, researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville showed
that people who had been lifting weights one to three times a week and cut back
to once every two or even four weeks (without changing the amount of exercise
per session), showed no significant decrease in strength for at least 12
So, backsliding doesn't have to spell the end of hard-earned
exercise accomplishments. And remember to call on a friend, perhaps make a
promise to each other to at least work out together twice a week. Making a
commitment that affects another person's health as well as your own may make
you more likely to get off the couch, and get with the program.