I dropped in for a quick visit to Austin this past weekend(my husband Joe is working from there for now so we are turning this into an adventure…)and I want to report that this is ONE FIT CITY!! Barely 100 feet from the front door of his apartment complex is a beautiful pedestrian bridge, complete with wood inlaid railings, that drops you into an incredible matrix of walking, jogging and cycling trails. I headed out on a January morning, the weather a balmy 60 degrees(Nirvana to a Portland girl like me). And although Joe had given me basic instructions for the 3.1 mile loop, I promptly got lost trying to navigate between the many choices in front of me. I ended up walking at least 5 miles but I was in good company. There were hundreds of Austinites walking, jogging, sprinting, biking, young mothers pushing massive strollers, others with panting dogs in tow~a wonderful sight indeed.
The trails meander along the lovely and serene Colorado River, known fondly as Lady Bird Lake by those in the know. And this lake is full of life! I saw great blue herons, graceful white swans, swooping cormorants, ducks, birds I’d never seen before, fishermen, kayakers, canoers, crewteams and paddleboarders. I was inspired by the energy and the level of commitment to fitness here, truly an amazing sight.
Of course Austin is renowned for its sunny weather(300 days of natural vitamin D each year) and I imagine the summer heat is a bit brutal for outdoor enthusiasts. But this reminded me of the challenges many of us face living in colder climates: how do we all stay motivated to be active when the weather outside is dreary, cold and wet?
I was hoping to link to an article that I was recently interviewed for in a local publication, Explore the Pearl(Jan/Feb issue) but unfortunately they are not set up with that feature yet. If you do live in the area, pick up a copy and read “Chasing Away the Winter Blahs” for some suggestions from myself and other health related professionals in the Pearl district of Portland.
For those of you in other regions, here are a few “pearls from The Pearl” to help keep you motivated when the weather is just not calling you outside!
1. Get outside every day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes/day. The fresh air is invigorating.
2. There are no days too bad to be outside, just bad clothing! Whenever I think it is too cold/rainy/wet here, I think of those who live in places like Sweden and I remind myself it really isn’t that bad. Find some functional and even stylish clothes that will keep you warm and dry and it will make getting outside more of a pleasure than a chore.
3. Okay, so maybe it is just too miserable to work out in the elements. Try a new indoor activity: Zumba, yoga, Pilates, stair stepper, treadmill. It is so important to have variety in your routine to get the benefits of cross training as well as avoiding boredom.
4. Find a pool: swim some laps, take a water exercise class.
5. Try a winter sport: cross country or downhill skiing, snowshoeing(major calorie burner!), sledding.
6. Find an exercise buddy or two, someone who will hold you accountable when you just aren’t feeling it…..
7. Walk your dog, walk your friend’s dog. Make the canine world a happier place(my dog LOVES the wind, the rain, the snow: she gets me out on even the stormiest of days and I am always so happy afterwards).
The sky is the limit when it comes to exercise, even when the skies are not as perfect as those January days I just experienced in Austin. Find a way to stay active. The benefits of exercise(increased strength, more energy, better mood, improved sleep and flexibility, enhanced immune system) far outweigh the excuses not to exercise.
Staying active is an essential component of living a balanced life. See you on the trail!