Winter months in the Central Valley can vary from sunny skies to never-ending fog to nonstop rain. Weather changes and shorter days can cause some to find it difficult to keep up with their usual exercise program.
We know why exercise is important: it's a stress reducer, weight manager, flu fighter, antidepressant and general tonic. Here are a few ideas to keep you going until spring has sprung.
When you don't want to venture outdoors, try an indoor activity. There are many great DVDs that can be played in the comfort and warmth of your own home. Programs for all levels, such as extreme fitness methods, kettle bells, walking at home and seated exercises with resistant bands, are available online.
Look for fitness routines on your cable or satellite TV channel, such as PBS or Discovery Fit & Health, or exercise websites that offer free videos, such as fitnessmagazine.com.
Vintage Faire mall has a free walking program called Club FIT.
You can try a local fitness center for a variety of activities, such as yoga, spin class, machine weights, indoor pool and stationary bike.
If you chose to go outside regardless of the weather, it is important to pick the right clothing. Colder days require layers that can be easily removed as exercise warms your body. Synthetic materials wick away the moisture from your body so you don't overheat or get chilled. Cover ears and hands, because they are more vulnerable to cold.
Wear shoes that help prevent slips on wet or icy surfaces.
Winter can be a good time to mix up your fitness routine. Try something new that you might not always think of as exercise dancing, bowling or indoor rock climbing.
Consider taking advantage of winter sports, such as ice skating, skiing and snowshoeing. These activities are great calorie burners.
Finally, have plans A, B and C in place so that you are not at the mercy of the ever-fickle weather. Don't let bad weather become an excuse to skip activity. When spring arrives, you will feel less like a hibernating bear and ready to build on your fitness routine yet again.
Pam Noonan, MS, RN, CDE, is a diabetes educator at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.