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Fall into fitness

Posted December 04, 2013 in Advice Column, Ames

Are you ready with a plan of action to stay active as the changing seasons descend upon us?

There are many advantages to outdoor exercise: fresh air, fun adventures and vitamin D on sunny days, to name a few. There is a lot of variety, but it all fades fast with shorter days and unpredictable weather. I have received a plethora of questions regarding seasonal transitions and the effectiveness of an exercise regimen. The following are the most common:

Q: Do you recommend getting home workout equipment or joining a gym to stay fit during the colder months?

A: Both home and public gyms are a great way to stay active during the winter months. Home gym equipment has the primary advantage of convenience and availability. Unfortunately, home workout equipment requires a lot of space as well as a lot of motivation to work out on an individual basis. Joining a fitness center can offer the benefit of support, variety of equipment and the energy of other participants with the same goals. Find a fitness center that has hours that meet your needs and is in a location convenient to your house and/or work.

Q: With the weather turning colder, I struggle with motivation issues. What can I do to remain motivated?
A: Here are some of the proven ways to stay motivated through the cold weather:
•    Enlist a workout partner.
•    Register for a spring event such as a running race or triathlon.
•    Get a group and sign up for an adventure race.
•    Join a group class. Boot camps, yoga, cardio dance, pilates, kickboxing — find something you enjoy.
•    Work with a certified personal trainer for more one-on-one knowledge and motivation.
•    Gather a group of people from your workplace and create an exercise or nutrition challenge.
•    Recruit your family to exercise with you.
•    Mix up your workout. Try something new — swim laps, indoor tennis, dance lessons. Keep things fresh.
•    Work snow into your fitness routine. Skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating are all great ways to sneak in an extra workout.

Q: If I do want to exercise outdoors, are there things I need to be aware of?  

A: We definitely have to be more cautious this time of year. Make sure to have a plan to poor weather and visibility issues. Keep the following things in mind if you decide to take your workout outside:
•    Give yourself extra time to properly warm up.
•    Hydrate. You might not feel as parched as in the summer, but water intake is just as important.
•    Dress in layers.
•    Wear shoes with appropriate traction to prevent slipping.
•    Wear sunglasses and sunscreen (sun reflection off the snow can be intense).

Information provided by Jake Belitz, Ames Racquet & Fitness-320 S. 17th St. Ames, 515-232-1911.

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