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Strategies for Keeping Fit Throughout the Cold Weather

In addition to now waning interest in New Year's Resolutions toward a healthier, more fit lifestyle, you may be slacking off in physical activity — a problem common to cold-weather months.

"This time of year, we all have a tendency to slack off in our fitness routines," said Carrie Schilling, assistant director of outpatient physical therapy for Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

In fact, most people tend to be more sedentary during the winter months and that can lead to problems, Schilling said.

Some activities, culled from the Kessler Physical Therapy staff, that can help you break out of that slump include:

Walk the mall. If the weather prevents walking outdoors, go to the local mall. Many have special morning hours set aside for walkers. After a well-paced walk, if you go shopping, continue the workout by doing simple exercises or stretches while standing on line. In addition, when carrying packages, balance the load in each arm to minimize stress on joints and back, or use a wheeled shopping cart.

Dance the night away. Ballroom or boogie, square or swing, dancing is still good exercise.

Jog your memory. You remember how good a run can make you feel. Many local schools, colleges, YMCAs and community centers have running tracks that are available to the public.

Get in the swim. Check out the local Y, community center — or even your worksite's fitness center! Many offer special pool rates and classes during their winter sessions.

Check out the library. Libraries offer a large collection of fitness and exercise tapes you can try. If your program provides such a service, be sure your employees and participants are aware of it.

Get personal. Personal trainers may help some individuals get motivated. Sharing these workouts with a friend or two can help share costs as well.

Be equipped. Making an investment in home equipment can be a great idea if there also is a commitment to use it.

Ride on. If you own a bicycle, start pedaling. It's an excellent cardiovascular activity that provides motion and exercise to the joints without pounding.

Take to the road. While driving, you can do some isometric exercises. When stopped at a light, for example, stretch your neck and roll your shoulders to loosen tight muscles and help reduce traffic tension.

"There are so many ways that people can exercise this time of year, there is simply no excuse not to," said Schilling.

If motivation is a problem, finding an exercise partner — a friend, coworker or spouse — can help you get moving."Plus, it makes any session more enjoyable," Schilling said.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing