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Five Fresh Forms of Indoor Fitness

When the temperature plunges this winter, don't let your motivation for exercise fall, as well.

Cold weather doesn't have to put a chill on your fitness routine, even if the treadmill or stair-stepper seems boring compared with jogging or riding your bike outside. What's important is to ask yourself: How can I make exercise different to make it more motivating?

If you're seeking an answer, you may want to consider these five indoor fitness options, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says. Some build on familiar activities, but others may be new to you. Always keep some variety in your exercise routines, to prevent boredom and drop out. If you haven't been exercising regularly, be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine.

Here's a real kick

Kickboxing uses martial arts kicks and punches in an aerobic class setting. Kickboxing is a high-intensity exercise. A 135-pound person is likely to burn 350 to 450 calories during a 50-minute class, the ACE says.

Participants need to take steps to avoid injury, particularly muscle strains and joint problems. If you're a beginner, start slowly and work up to more complicated moves.

Off the deep end

A pool workout isn't limited to the endless back-and-forth of lap swimming, thanks to water aerobics and other pool-based classes.

Because the effects of gravity lessen in the water, a pool workout is easy on the joints. Water is also about 12 times denser than air. That increases resistance, so in addition to the cardiovascular benefits you build strength moving through water.

The pool can provide a workout at a high intensity with almost no impact, a real advantage, especially as you get older, the ACE says. People recovering from injuries and women after pregnancy also can benefit most from a water workout.

The ACE offers two cautions. You still sweat, even in the pool, so drink before you feel thirsty to remain hydrated. Also, because blood flows more easily when you're in the water, your heart rate will be lower than it would be using the same intensity on land—so pay attention to your breathing and how tired you feel so you don't overdo it.

What a racquet

Racquetball uses almost every muscle in your body, the U.S. Racquetball Association says. Your heart rate stays high even when you stop between points.

With courts in nearly every YMCA and on many college campuses and in many health clubs, finding a place to play should be easy. Just be sure to protect your eyes with appropriate eyewear when you play.

Climb the wall

Being forced indoors during the winter can make you feel like climbing the walls. If your health club or local college features a specially designed climbing wall, that may actually be a good thing.

Scaling a 40-foot height using only handholds and footholds can seem daunting. But even if you can't do a single chin-up you can try a climbing wall.

Climbers always wear a safety harness. A partner on the other end of the rope is strapped in on the ground to keep any fall a short one. Climbing facilities will provide all the safety equipment and climbing shoes, although you may eventually want to buy the latter.

Spin cycle

If riding the stationary bike is getting old, you might want to try indoor cycling, often called spinning. Indoor cycling classes are instructor-led fitness classes taught on stationary bikes accompanied by music. The instructor takes you on a virtual ride, changing the speed and resistance.

Indoor cycling tones the lower body, works your heart and lungs, and burns 350 to 600 calories per 45-minute class. Calories burned depends of the size of the participant and the intensity level of the class. The ACE cautions that the classes can be high intensity and are generally not for a beginning exerciser. Even so, most instructors do encourage participants to go at their own pace, which can be helpful as you get into better shape.

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