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How To Stay Fit This Winter

Nov 17, 2010

Outdoor-workout enthusiasts reveled in a balmy autumn, running, hiking and cycling for as long as possible before the snow finally fell.

But as colder days and earlier nightfall give way to freezing temperatures, slippery snow and numbing winds can kill motivation for even the most hard-core exercisers.

Instead of hibernating, fitness experts say that transitioning now to indoor workouts that challenge your body in different ways can lift spirits while maintaining sports performance and base-line conditioning until spring.

"Athletes who shift workouts indoors often find that when they do go back outside, they are better," says Shannon Fable, group fitness manager at the Colorado Athletic Club in Boulder. "They've given their body a chance to recover from overuse injuries that occurred from running or biking every day. And they've taken the time to build their other core components of fitness, including coordination, flexibility, strength training and cardiovascular."

Use these tips to keep up with exercise despite the cold:

Change workout time: Switch workouts to lunchtime if it's too dark and cold for a morning or evening run.

Change up your measurements: In the summer, if youmeasure for distance, try measuring for time instead.

Try a new indoor activity: Hiker and runner Liz Schmidt, 26, of Denver added indoor climbing at the Rock'n & Jam'n facility to her winter workout routine. She also joined the Colorado Athletic Club and took up spinning classes.

Cross train: If you are playing tennis, running or cycling in the summer, try weightlifting, yoga and Pilates in the winter - on your own or with an instructor and group class.

Take live workout classes from home: Sign up with a program such as, where instructors teach yoga, Pilates and strength training classes in real-time online. Add a webcam and instructors, and students can see one another working out.

Ease into a winter routine: Tylor Sidener, a 39-year-old 24 Hour Fitness member, enjoyed full-bore 45- to 60-minute summer workouts. But in the winter, Sidener allows his body and mind-set to adjust to the cold and dark by gradually increasing the length of his indoor workouts. For instance, he may work out 20 minutes one day and then bump it up to 25 minutes the next to ease into his winter routine.

Transform a road or mountain bike into an indoor stationary trainer: Use a roller or a stationary trainer to hold a bike in place while still providing traction and resistance.

Exercise with a group: Group exercise classes have evolved to more than just high- or low-impact aerobics, says Joe Quatrochi, a professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver who specializes in adult fitness and exercise science. Boot-camp workouts, Zumba and CrossFit programs add variety and camaraderie, and require virtually no equipment.

Hire a certified personal trainer: A personal trainer can help exercisers develop a workout program based on specified spring-performance goals. Gym-phobics may want to try an online personal training program in which customized workouts arrive through e-mail, and participants have access to progress reports, exercise demos and databases, and nutritional guides.

Train for a marathon: To stay on top of her fitness routine, runner Marcia Noyes, 50, of Golden is training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She simulates running on an elliptical machine, keeps her intensity high by training with a coach, and documents her goals and achievements on a blog and in Facebook posts.

Active video games: Xbox, Wii and other gaming platforms can offer challenging workouts that rev up the heart rate through dancing, jumping and other physical movements. It's a good way to make exercise a family event, and multiplayer challenges boost competitive natures.

Study a martial art: Progressing through levels and gaining new belts or titles can help participants develop long-term goal setting.

Join an indoor sports league: Sports like basketball and volleyball easily transition indoors. Scott Anderson, 52, plays volleyball outdoors in the grass during warm weather. But in the winter, he and other members of the Christian Singles Volleyball group move their game to an indoor gym court.

Enjoy cold-weather activities: Skiing, snowboarding, hockey and ice skating can add variety and challenge major muscle groups. Take a class with a professional first.


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