Apr 082004
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

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

important role.

“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

is energizing.”

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

6:30-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 13

Student Recreation Center Lounge

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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