As the Weather Cools, Make Changes to Stay Active
Those long, active summer days have drawn to a close, but that's no reason to let your workout routines go into hibernation.
"Think of autumn as the start of a fresh new fitness season. Take advantage of the brisk temperatures to re-energize your commitment to a healthful lifestyle," says Kathie Davis, executive director of IDEA: The Health and Fitness Source, based in San Diego.
Start by writing down what you've accomplished in your fitness program so far and what you want to achieve in the future. Include long-range, broad objectives, such as maintaining a healthy weight, along with some short-term goals that will help you reach them.
As autumn days get shorter, "scheduling workouts can become more difficult, especially if you prefer to exercise outdoors, says Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., author of "Strength Training Past 50."
Instead of struggling to beat the clock, Dr. Westcott suggests "get more bang for the buck by choosing activities that give you the same fitness benefits in a shorter amount of time." If you usually take a one-hour brisk walk, for instance, run for a half-hour, instead.
If you decide to work out indoors, don't expect to duplicate your outdoor routine. "Sustained activity in a gym lacks the variety you get outside," says Dr. Westcott. "If you spend an hour riding a bike on a beautiful country road, it goes by in a flash. If you spent an hour on a stationary bike in the gym, you'd go nuts."
To keep yourself entertained indoors, plan a workout that includes short periods of several different activities. Try 20 minutes on the stationary bicycle, 20 on the rowing machine and 20 on the stair climber.
Here are other ideas to help you make an active transition from summer to autumn exercise.
Autumn brings lots of new demands on time, especially if you're involved in community activities or have children in school. Protect your workout by setting a definite time and place, then scheduling other activities around that.
Seal the commitment by arranging to work out with a friend or personal trainer. Or join a group of people who walk, run or cycle at a regular time and place.
Catch the back-to-school spirit
Sign up for a class in a physical activity you've always wanted to learn.
Winterize your equipment
If you change your workout conditions, you may need to change your shoes, outerwear or other equipment, as well.
Maintain your skills
Tennis and swimming transfer easily indoors, but if golf or baseball is your sport, it may be harder to find winter opportunities to play. Keep in shape by choosing workouts that mimic motions used in your sport and keep those muscles strong and flexible.
Sign up for a bad-weather backup
Don't let rain or snow give you an excuse to skip a workout. Arrange for an indoor location before you need it. Join a health club, buy a video or investigate local mall-walking opportunities.
Find new opportunities to be active
Take the stairs instead of the elevator; park in the lot farthest away; and take a quick walk around the block at lunchtime.
"Get more exercise in winter, not less," says Dr. Westcott. "You'll feel better all over. And there's no more effective way to fight the winter doldrums than by staying active and fit."
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