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  • Brigitte Sager, ARNP

Cold and Rainy Outside? What's Your Plan for Winter Workouts?

As a primary care provider, I have a list of questions I like to ask patients at their first visit. It helps me identify things we can work on together to improve their health. One of those questions, "do you do any regular exercise?", is often met with some interesting answers.


"I'm active at work."

"I don't have time."

"I chase kids all day."

"I like to walk/hike/run when its nice out."


Living in the Pacific Northwest, the last one always gets me. Despite our soggy reputation, we are not nearly the rainiest part of the country, but we do have a drizzly six to eight months every year to contend with. I look at it as a time to get lots of indoor projects, reading, school work, etc. done, and I also think its a trade off because we generally have such glorious summers.


Over the last few years, I've learned to "get real" with my patients more- asking questions to shine a light on their goals and current lifestyle discrepancies that are holding them back. I often have patients that come to me to discuss hopes of weight loss, and then maybe they tell me they only exercise when its "nice out." Let's be honest. Planning to live in the Pacific Northwest and only exercise during nice weather is a recipe for a shorter, less healthy life. I sometimes jokingly ask, "are you planning to move somewhere sunnier to meet your weight loss goals, or buy a rain jacket?"


The truth is, our summers are not only glorious, but we also have an endless amount of adventures to go on in the summer that count as exercise. What are we to do when the weather turns in the fall?


Of course, there's always the option of buying that rain jacket and keeping things outdoors in the winter as well. One of my favorite forms of exercise is snowboarding, and we are have no shortage of running trails, amazing hikes, city adventures, and snow shoeing or cross country skiing in our beautiful mountain ranges.


Regular exercise is so effective for weight loss, depression, anxiety, sleep, memory, strength, energy, and preventing chronic diseases like heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. It is also proven to prolong our lives. Unfortunately, back pain is becoming an epidemic in our increasingly sedentary society. Regular exercise can lead to pain free, stronger, and healthier days for years to come.


I try to encourage my patients and clients to think of ways to exercise that they actually enjoy. I've met way too many women that hate the treadmill and elliptical, yet have forced themselves onto one with each weight loss roller coaster they have put themselves through in the past. Personally, I enjoy weights, stretching, and the rowing machine. Being able to exercise at home while still being around my family is important. I was able to get an almost new Bowflex off of Craigslist for $125 a year ago, and its so much easier for me to stay committed to regular exercise when its in my own house. I recently sold my very basic rowing machine in hopes of replacing it with a water rower, and I plan to write a post on the total body benefits of rowing machines in the near future.


Those are a few things that have worked for my lifestyle, and I'm definitely an introvert who loves staying home, so exercising at home is only natural for me. How about you? What exercises might be fun for you through the rainy season? Here are some other ideas for rainy weather workouts:


1. Sign up for a class

Adding something new into the grey months can be just the variety you're looking for. Consider aerobics, spin class, yoga, tai chi, etc. Dance classes can be a fun way to get your heart rate up.


2. Home gym

Home gyms eliminate many of the excuses for not making time for exercise. I love catching up on my favorite shows while working out after work. In fact, I have a rule I can't watch TV when I get home from work unless I'm working out at the same time. Its easier to hold myself accountable when its a planned part of my day. Also, lightly used, affordable exercise equipment is often easy to find on Craigslist or OfferUp.


3. Join a gym

Signing up for your local gym can be a ideal way to get moving. Not only are they likely to offer free classes, but you'll also have access to a wide variety of equipment to keep your workouts fresh. Consider partnering with a fitness coach for some accountability and guidance.


4. Resistance/weight training

It is so easy and inexpensive to start resistance training at home, work, or at the gym. You can use your own body weight as your only equipment, or buy some weights, resistance bands, kettle bells, etc. for a low cost solution that doesn't take up much space.


5. Workout videos

There are thousands of workout videos waiting for you on Youtube. You name it, its there, and ITS FREE! From aerobics videos to learning some new dance moves, youtube.com offers endless options of variety for getting moving.


6. Swimming

If you love swimming, an indoor pool can be the perfect answer to getting an amazing cardio workout during rainy weather.


7. Take the stairs at work

If you feel that time is your biggest barrier to working out- rain or shine, consider adding stairs to your lunch routine. If your workplace has stairs, you'll have little excuse for not getting moving on your lunch break. Also, work is a great place to commit to a routine with a work buddy. You can hold each other accountable to meeting for a lunchtime workout.


The most important thing is to pick something you enjoy, so that it is easier to stick with and you might even find yourself looking forward to it.....especially if you start feeling all the great benefits regular exercise has to offer. Personally, I know I sleep better, have more energy, and my memory is remarkably better when I am exercising regularly.


How about you? How do you stay active in the winter? I'd love to hear some of your ideas for wet weather exercise.

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