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Indoor Options for Exercise in Winter

Indoor Options for Exercising in Winter
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Nasty spells of cold weather don't mean exercisers have to settle down for a
long winter's nap if they choose to stay indoors, according to an article in
the Penn State Sports Medicine Newsletter.

Some of the best aerobic and total body workouts can be done right in the
home, health club, or local indoor pool. For instance, the newsletter notes
that winter is an ideal time to give stair climbing, water running, and slide
boards a try.

STAIR CLIMBING MACHINES duplicate the stride used in running up a steep hill
to exercise every major muscle group from the waist down. The machines require
little skill, but significant willpower, to keep going through the typical 30-
to 45-minute sessions.

Workouts should begin with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up consisting of shorter
steps, gradually working up to wider strides. Exercisers should select a
stepping rate that allows them to stay in the middle of the range of motion of
the pedals. Deeper steps are taken once an adequate warmup has been achieved,
followed eventually by shallower steps again for a five-minute cooldown
period.

For variety, try the following on stair climbers:

--Close your eyes and hold on lightly to the railing with your fingers as you
climb; the machine becomes a challenging balance exercise when visual cues are
removed.

--Move your feet as far forward as possible on the pedals or stairs so that
you are standing on your heels. This takes pressure off the calf muscles,
forcing the quadriceps muscles to work harder.

--Climb for one minute with your toes pointing inward and then the next minute
with toes pointing outward. This places more stress on the hip flexors and
quadriceps.

WATER RUNNING allows exercisers to maintain or improve fitness while sparing
them the lower-extremity pounding that often comes with land-based running.
The buoyancy of water supports the exerciser during jumping, running,
bouncing, and stretching.

According to the newsletter, a 1994 University of Florida study of 16 trained
distance runners confirmed water running as a good alternative exercise that
produces beneficial training effects sufficient to maintain aerobic
conditioning.

Water running can be practiced in deep water, using flotation devices to keep
the head and shoulders above water, or in waist-deep water, with such optional
equipment as special footgear and tethers. Techniques for water running vary
depending on the depths involved and may take some practice to master.

Athletes are increasingly using SLIDE BOARDS to develop speed, power, and
agility while moving laterally. Sliding rhythmically from side to side atop
the slippery plastic panel allows for a high-intensity workout with very
little impact force on the joints and musculature of the lower body.

According to the newsletter, exercisers can usually pick up the basic sliding
movement quickly. The position to adopt is the "athletic ready" stance with
head up, knees bent, back arched slightly, and arms bent 90 degrees at the
elbows. To slide, use the pair of shoe covers that come with the board, or
pull a large pair of thick woolen socks over exercise shoes.

Workouts on slide boards should progress from a five-minute warmup of slow,
gentle slides to higher speeds and intensities. As with any of
the indoor options mentioned here, exercisers should practice slide board
workouts at a level consistent with their own training goals -- measured by
heart rate or on a perceived exertion scale.

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