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    Moving your exercise indoors
    Judith J Wurtman, PhD posted:

    A friend from Florida called the other day and told me that the temperature has dropped enough so she can resume her morning runs. I responded by saying that I was not sure how much longer I could continue mine, as cold, rainy and windy weather was moving in and snow may be arriving by the end of the month.
    The Fall is the time when we change many aspects of our lifestyle, especially in the northern tier of states. Sweaters and jackets are pushed to the front of the closet, salads become less interesting as the availability of local produce vanishes, and the early sunsets make us go inside four hours earlier than we did in July.
    If you are used to exercising outside, temperature and darkness may necessitate how and where you do your workouts. The after-dinner walks with the spouse, dog or both that were so pleasant in the cool hours of a summer evening suddenly lose their appeal when you are forced to trudge through cold puddles or soggy leaves in the dark. I have to walk several blocks to my health club through a wind tunnel created by a nearby high-rise. Doing so when it is cold is about as appealing as a forced march in Siberia.
    If motivation to exercise routinely is already weak, weather and darkness become convenient reasons to abandon exercise altogether until the daffodils arrive. And just in case there is still a small possibility that the trip to the gym or walk around the block could be accomplished, the forth-coming holidays present a wonderful excuse to "not even think about exercise" because of lack of time.
    Some of you may have access to a health club at work but unfortunately gyms are not as ubiquitous as the cafeteria or lobby coffee shop. Fortunately for the weather—limited or weather-impaired exerciser, there are alternatives to exercising outside or going to a gym. Home gym equipment with the same bells and whistles as those in a commercial gym is available and if you don't want to buy it new, someone is sure to be selling some equipment, not new but never used. If there is room in your home and money to purchase the equipment, having the machines right there in your house is very convenient.
    Of course buying the equipment does not automatically mean using it. Don't purchase it unless you know you are going to use it . You are better off spending money on a trainer to come to your home to start you on an indoor exercise regimen than on a piece of equipment on which the spiders will hang their webs. But, if you have the equipment or plan to buy something, motivate yourself to use it frequently.
    A weight-loss client got herself to use her treadmill by hanging a dress she wanted to wear to a reunion on its handles. People often rent movies or watch pre-recorded TV programs only when they are on the machines. And it helps to be realistic about how much you will enjoy the experience of walking on a treadmill in your basement compared to running along the river on a crisp fall day with the geese flying in formation overhead. It will never be the same experience but the end results—better health, better weight and better mood— will be.
    A less expensive alternative to buying gym equipment is to purchase exercise DVD's or borrow them from the library. Borrowing them from the library will allow you to test your exercise level and what type of program appeals to you. If you look up exercise videos on the Web you will find hundreds available and new ones are always coming out. They are rated according to their intensity of the exercise and skill required to do the movements. Some focus only on cardio workouts while others target muscle strengthening and still others concentrate on balance and posture. Some combine cardio and muscle strengthening into one workout. Reviews are available from people who have purchased them and are worth reading because sometimes the person writing the review will comment on something that will make the exercise program attractive or incompatible with your own needs.
    Exercising along with a recorded workout has several advantages. If, like me, you are fairly uncoordinated, no one will notice if the wrong foot or arm is being lifted. You can play the DVD whenever it is convenient and stop and start it again if you can't spend an entire 30 or 60 minutes at once (although it is better if you can do the whole program without stopping because your body is warmed up). You can stop the recording to go over a move several times until you are able to do it.
    But don't forget about indoor recreational activities. Rock climbing at your local mall may not be something you will be with any regularity but what about bowling? Do you have room for a ping pong table in your basement? It may not seem like much exercise but if you, like me, don't play very well, just running around to hit the ball or bending down to pick it up from the floor can give you a good workout. Dancing is also a good way to burn calories. Classes in everything from line dancing to the tango are available. I know several people who took lessons to be able to dance at a wedding and then stayed around to take more because they really enjoyed it.
    Still, don't forget to go outside to exercise when the weather is good. Sometimes the sun and air are the brightest in the cold weather months because the haze that hangs over certain areas in the summer is gone. Sliding down a snow-covered hill with your kids and then lugging them on the sled to the top of the hill will give your back, arms and shoulders, as well as your legs, a good workout. Pushing large balls of snow to make a snowman will do the same.
    If you are able to keep up with your exercise through the cold months of the year, you, like the proverbial bear, will emerge in the spring much thinner. But, unlike the bear, you will be much more fit.
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