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Watch Out for Winter Workouts

January 26, 2007

Exercising in cold climates during winter can test even the most dedicated fitness fan. But by planning wisely, you can maintain your motivation--and stay safe--in the weeks ahead.

In a study last year in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that their lowest level of physical activity occurred in the winter, and the highest activity occurred in the spring. It's no wonder, with short days and freezing temperatures making it difficult to get inspired to work out. And what's more, exercising outside requires some precautions to stay safe.

You have to be smart when heading outdoors for winter workouts. If you're not prepared, you can quickly find yourself in a hazardous situation. When the temperature is zero and wind speed is 15 mph, for example, frost bite can occur in 30 minutes, according to the National Weather Service. Even a temperature of 60 can trigger hypothermia if you're not clothed properly, the Weather Service says.

Whether you're new to fitness or an experienced exerciser, keep these cold-weather tips in mind to stay fit and safe this winter.

If the weather gets too cold, windy or inclement, you should exercise indoors. If you can't make it to the gym, even doing some push-ups or deep-knee bends or walking up and down stairs are effective ways to get your heart rate up, build muscle and burn calories.

Tom Weede is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a certified health and fitness instructor with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a former senior editor for Men's Fitness magazine. He recently authored The Entrepreneur Diet, which provides a six-week menu plan and time-efficient exercises for anyone on a tight schedule.