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Fitness Focus: Copy-and-Share: Winter Fitness

Thompson, Dixie L. Ph.D., FACSM

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Dixie L. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, is the director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health and an associate professor in the Department of Exercise, Sport, and Leisure Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Fighting the winter blahs? Feeling the muscles getting weak from a lack of activity? Watching the weight creep up on the scales? It is time to re-energize your fitness efforts. Although the long, warm days of summer may seem like the perfect time to focus on fitness, winter poses some unique opportunities to get active.

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Symbol Take an Activity Class

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Many universities and community colleges offer activity classes that combine opportunities for activity with basic fitness-related information. These classes are generally available to non-students for a small fee. Popular activities such as yoga, pilates, and tai chi as well as more traditional classes like weight training are frequently offered. There are sometimes different levels offered, so look for a class that corresponds with your level of expertise. Classes often begin in January, so start the year off by learning a new activity, or participate in one you have already learned to enjoy.

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SymbolJoin a Recreation League

Winter is a popular time for recreation leagues. Adult leagues for basketball, volleyball, and indoor tennis are common. These leagues guarantee activity a few days per week and also provide motivation to stay active on other days. Information about such leagues can be obtained by contacting local recreation departments. Look for a league that offers the level of competition that is comfortable for you.

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Symbol Membership Specials

Fitness centers sometimes offer winter specials to attract new members. These opportunities can be an inexpensive way to determine whether a facility will fit your fitness needs. Shop around for the best offer, and do not sign up for a long-term contract until you try out the facility. There is a great deal of competition in the fitness industry, so look for the place that fits your preferences and needs. When shopping for a fitness facility, consider the following:

* Staff expertise

* Facilities available (e.g., types of equipment, pools, and courts)

* Classes offered and charges for attending

* Availability of fitness testing

* Location and hours of operation

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Symbol Plan an Active Vacation

Snowshoeing and skiing are common winter excursions, and there are abundant opportunities to take advantage of these activities. Look for packages that offer reduced rates for activities when combined with housing. Also consider other active options such as hiking and horseback riding. Look for experienced guides who can help you approach these winter adventures safely. Alternatively, plan an escape to a warmer climate where active, outdoor pursuits are numerous.

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Symbol Prepare for Summer Activities

Wish you had a little more zip on your backhand? Want to add yardage to your tee shot? Use the winter to get yourself in better shape for spring and summer pursuits. Personal fitness trainers and coaches can help individualize your workouts to focus on your performance goals.

The New Year is often a time of reflection and commitment to behavior change. Use the opportunities provided by winter to focus upon fitness. Developing your personal fitness is an investment that is sure to pay dividends.

© 2006 American College of Sports Medicine

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