With the temperature dropping and the winter season beginning this month, most of us will have trouble staying motivated to exercise and stay in shape this time of year.

The winter blues, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), results from lack of exposure to sunlight from short days and long nights and hibernating indoors most of the time due to the cold weather.



There are many options to exercise and stay in shape both indoors and outdoors. Exercising outdoors does require more planning and more safety precautions than during warmer months. Here are five winter exercise tips to keep in mind:

1. First and foremost, set fitness and health goals to keep you motivated.

2. Dress in layers. Start with a lightweight moisture-wicking garment next to the skin, followed by an insulating layer of synthetic material or fleece that will also absorb moisture, followed by a wind-resistant jacket if needed that is semi-porous to let moisture escape. As you warm up, you can then remove a layer so you don’t become overheated.

3. Wear shoes that have good traction to prevent falls on snow or patches of ice. Be safe and don’t go outside if it is too icy.

4. Stay hydrated. You will still sweat and perspire as your body warms up from exercise in the cold weather.

5. Head into the wind for the first half of your walk or run, and come back with it the second half. This will help you avoid becoming chilled from perspiration and the wind-chill factor.

If you don’t feel comfortable walking or running in the cold weather, other cardiovascular exercise activities to try indoors include swimming, water walking or jogging, jumping rope or group aerobic classes.

Other tips:
1. Join a health club for the winter, which will open up many options to you.

2. Walk indoors; go to a mall or other indoor location. Some malls have a walking club you can join.

3. Make a workout by climbing up and down a flight of stairs; be sure to start slow and increase the amount by 10-15 percent weekly.

4. Create a home gym; this can easily be done for $100 and up.

5. Hire a personal trainer for workouts in your home or to develop a program to help get you jumpstarted.

By staying fit and watching your diet, you can beat the winter blues and be prepared for outdoor activities in the spring. Stay fit, and have a wonderful holiday season.

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