More students may be exercising outside in the sunshine, but a
predicted change in weather might send students indoors for their
exercise. The change in weather and the change in facilities could
create a change in motivation.
Avid fitness enthusiasts find the motivation to frequent the gym
all year long, but for many it is not so easy.
For some, such as Tom LeSavage, a senior marketing major,
exercising is a lifestyle, so the weather only affects where he
exercises. For others, like Mary Wichman, a Fort Collins resident,
the weather can greatly hinder motivation to get out. Seasonal
Affective Disorder, motivations such as New Year’s resolutions and
the availability and convenience of going to a place to exercise
get in the way of exercising in the winter.
However, there are a variety of things to do to keep healthy
during the gloomier time of the year.
“(Winter) makes us less active. It makes it extra hard to get in
here,” said Tamar Cline, assistant director of strength and fitness
at the Campus Recreation center. To combat this, she suggests
students “stay healthy, get regular exercise, eat properly.”
Fitness enthusiasts and experts offer advice
As the sun is beginning to shine more, students may notice
people running and exercising outdoors. This time of the year
provides many with more motivation to get out, but for others the
weather or season makes no difference. LeSavage is one of these
people. LeSavage runs approximately 30 miles each week and has been
running since he was 11 years old. Running is a lifestyle for him.
He said exercising makes him feel better mentally, but people need
to work out for the right reasons.
“Do it for the right reasons,” he said. “You have to want to do
Cline agreed that goals and reasons for exercising play an
“Probably the most important is developing realistic goals,” she
wrote in an e-mail. “In order for people to start exercising they
must have some type of goal or reason for doing it.”
Cline also suggests keeping a journal of goals and achievements
and creating rewards for achievements.
“Set a reward for your achievements. Try not to use food as a
reward. Instead take a trip to a museum, go to a game, etc,” she
said. “Journaling is another excellent way to keep motivated. The
journal can be a way to keep track of how much someone has done,
how they felt after their workout session and it is also great to
write down what they are eating throughout the day.”
Amy Schoengarth, a sophomore zoology major, suggests being
“I plan ahead,” she said. Schoengarth brings her exercise stuff
to campus with her all year long, therefore it is not usually
harder for her to work out in the winter, she said.
Different seasons offer different activity opportunities
Despite the lack of motivation causing some people to not
exercise in the winter months, the inability to do certain
activities outside in the winter plays a role.
The U.S. Forest Service, which manages public forests and
grasslands throughout Colorado and the nation, offers different
activities at different times of the year. Fewer visitors frequent
the Rocky Mountain forests in the winter because fewer people are
hiking and camping, said Larry Warren, business information manager
for the U.S. Forest Service.
In total, the forest service sees around 214 million visitors
each year, as measured every four years. Of this use, 28 percent
participate in warm-weather activities such as camping, hiking,
picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding and more, according to
“Primary activity participation – national visitor use monitoring
data,” a report edited by Warren in 2003.
As a comparison, 17 percent of visitors participate in
winter-weather activities such as snowmobiling and skiing.
This trend toward different activities is also seen by the
patronage of CSU’s Outdoor Adventure Program, but John Kelley, an
employee at OAP, said business stays fairly steady.
“A lot of the people that are into the outdoors are into
multiple sports,” said Kelley, a senior graphic design and art
education major. “It stays relatively steady.”
He also said there may be a slight increase in the winter simply
because winter activities often require more equipment.
For indoor exercise activity, Cline said business at the
recreation center sees an average of 3,000 to 4,000 people each
day. The center doesn’t really see a huge difference between good
weather and bad weather, but in the winter the center sees a larger
variety of students, which suggests that students are using the
facilities more infrequently.
“We definitely see a lot of different faces,” she said.
Cline added that the year’s busiest times are in January, after
students have made New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, and
right before Spring Break. During these times, the number of
students using the facilities each day grows to more than
LeSavage agreed that the recreation center is more crowded in
January and February as a result of New Year’s resolutions. But he
sees it taper off shortly after that time of the year. For
LeSavage, exercising in the winter is more of a necessity because
he is not getting outside as much.
Winter can make people SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder may be one of the reasons students
find it harder to exercise and be active in the winter. Cline sees
this a typical reason. “(SAD) is exactly what is going on,” she
In the winter, people suffering from this mood disorder tend to
experience symptoms similar to depression.
“SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression episodes and
related to seasonal variations of light. Melatonin, a sleep-related
hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked
to SAD. This hormone, which may cause symptoms of depression, is
produced at increased levels in the dark,” according to the
National Mental Health Association Web site. “Therefore, when the
days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone
SAD is not as common in Fort Collins as other places because the
city sees more sunny days, Cline said.
Cline said this disorder can greatly affect a person’s
motivation to exercise. Yet one of the best ways to counteract SAD
is through exercise.
“We have two things combating each other,” she said.
Other factors that play into students’ ability and motivation to
exercise during the winter include the increase in illness during
the winter and students’ workload.
“We have seen a huge amount of illness,” Cline said.
LeRoy and Mary Wichman, Fort Collins residents, agreed that
sunshine plays a role in motivation. LeRoy Wichman said that when
the couple lived in Germany there was very little sunshine. “The
lack of sunshine there really affected my wife,” he said. “The sun
Mary Wichman also said access to facilities affects exercise
motivation. She said that people who are not on CSU’s campus do not
exercise as much because they do not have as much access to indoor
facilities in close proximity. As a result they don’t go to the gym
in cold weather.
“People say, ‘It’s too cold out for me to go,'” she said.
Amy Schoengarth, a sophomore zoology major at CSU, agreed that
it is harder to get out in the winter.
“When I’m home it’s hard to get myself (to the recreation
center),” she said.
The CSU Campus Recreation Center offers a class about staying
Boost Your Immunity
Tuesday, April 13
Student Recreation Center Lounge