With the arrival of cooler weather, individuals often feel the urge to go into “hibernation mode,” said Teresa Henson of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


“When the weather starts to get cold, it’s sometimes difficult to fight the impulse to be a couch potato,” said Henson, an Extension specialist – nutrition outreach coordinator.


During the fall and winter months, many are less motivated to stick to a regular exercise routine.


“But this is actually the right moment to get motivated and continue exercising,” she said. “You will feel better and will be less likely to be sidelined by added weight gain due to holiday parties, get-togethers and other seasonal festivities.”


Going to the gym is not the only option for staying active – the most important thing is to move, Henson said. Even walks through the local mall or around the office can be beneficial. At home, a thorough housecleaning that involves vacuuming, shampooing the carpet, washing windows and cleaning out closets can be a great calorie-burning activity.


“Bring movement to otherwise stationary activities,” she said. “Instead of watching your favorite TV show from the couch, try walking in place.”


The American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend the following fun indoor activities to stay in shape:


• Home workout circuit videos (online or on DVD).


• Strength training with resistance bands.


• Indoor cycling at home or at the gym.


• Dancing, bowling or ice skating.


• Yoga, Zumba or other fun group classes at a local gym.


• Rock climbing in a gym.


• Climbing stairs.


Beneficial outdoor activities include hiking, raking leaves and roller skating, Henson said. Brisk walks or jogs around the local park during lunch breaks can make individuals feel more energetic and refreshed.


“Regular physical activity is a vital part of healthy weight management, and even if you don’t currently have a workout routine, there is no time like the present to get started,” she said. “Find a physical activity you enjoy, and aim for 30 minutes to an hour of activity on most days. Keep in mind that whatever physical activity you decide on, you will burn extra calories instead of gaining weight.”


The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.


— Will Hehemann is a writer/editor at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.