During the summer months, many people in the Rogue Valley take advantage of the great weather for their daily quota of exercise. But when the weather starts to cool, and the rain starts to fall, it can be difficult to keep your fitness routine on track. How can you make your workout work "in" too?
The change of season can provide a change of pace for your fitness routine, says Patrick Frey, in-home trainer and owner of TOPFIT Personal Training & Fitness Consulting. If your outdoor activities tend to focus on cardio, try some weight lifting for cross-training benefits. Add some resistance training, or set up a circuit format for variety, he suggests.
From pedometers that count your steps, to heart rate monitors on treadmills, and exercise bikes, technology offers ways to try to help you monitor your exercise goals. But do they really help?
Yes and no. "Some people like them because they need feedback," says Patrick Frey, in-home trainer and owner of TOPFIT Personal Training & Fitness Consulting. But exercise also provides improved strength, better moods and sleep patterns. "Those are things you can measure without a number," he reminds. And a number on a device doesn't always accurately reflect the quality of your workout.
However, a new device is helping to take the guesswork out of your workout results. Worn on the upper arm, the Body Bugg uses four sensors combined with basic body information to more accurately estimate how many calories the wearer is burning. It also offers online tools that compare caloric intake with calories burned for a more accurate picture. You might find the tool at your local gym or with a personal trainer or it's available for sale online with several versions offered.
"It's a visual tool," says Charlene Hamilton, owner of Women's Fitness Company in Medford. "It's something you can see, feel [and] touch to see if you're burning enough calories."
"You've got to make it interesting," says Frey. If it is something you have to do rather than something you want to do, it will be much harder to stay with. "It should be the other way around," says Charlene Hamilton, owner of Women's Fitness Company in Medford, of the have to/want to dilemma and so offers a wide range of classes. "We try to make it interesting."
Of course, you can take your favorite outdoor activities indoors, too. "You can still do a lot of those things when the weather turns bad," reminds Frey. Treadmills, rowing machines and stationary bikes keep you moving. Obviously the scenery won't be the same, so Frey suggests turning on a favorite show, podcast or music to keep your interest up and the distractions down. Even putting your imagination to work can help. Hamilton's facility offers "imagination rides" in the cycling class that vary the pace of a stationary bike. "If you're off your seat, obviously you're pushing uphill," she says with a laugh.
If you're planning to add a piece of exercise equipment to your home, remember to get on and try it out, whether new or used, says Frey. Is it stable with a smooth motion? Can you get a full stride or range of motion on it? "You'll find out a lot about a machine," he says, just by spending a few extra minutes on it before you buy. Because these machines can be a considerable investment, you might want to weigh the cost of an exercise machine against that of a fitness club or a personal trainer. "You've got to know you'll use it," sums up Frey.
If space is limited, a jump rope, adjustable dumb bells, pull-up bar or a punching bag can be used in a variety of exercises. A stability ball also offers a versatile, but scaled-down, fitness tool. "Plus it's kind of fun just to sit on," he admits.
"There are a lot of things people can do without any equipment," reminds Hamilton. Jumping jacks, push-ups, dancing and other body-movement activities will get your heart rate up, increase your strength and boost your metabolism. How much space is enough? "Lay down on your floor and spread out your arms" is Frey's rule of thumb for the minimum space to safely use.
And consider your workout surface, too. Flooring with some give to it will help protect you from injury. "The biggest thing is not to do impact-type activities directly on hard flooring," cautions Frey.
And finally — "Don't just give up on the outdoors," says Frey. Take advantage of the days of sun and fresh air when you can. Whatever your choice for keeping fit over the winter, the benefits can bridge the seasons.