8 tips from doctors on how to stay fit this fall

SEATTLE -- The fall can bring a sense of impending doom to outdoor enthusiasts. Maybe you've spent the last three months getting fit in the sunshine, and the anticipated months of rain and clouds have you wondering if there's any hope for maintaining your summer figure.

But, local doctors say fall weight gain is not inevitable. If you want to stay fit this fall, you'll just have to get creative.

Runners: Gear up or switch to skis

Don't like the idea of running in the rain? Many runners enjoy the aerobic workout in cross country skiing, says Dr. William Callahan, a sports medicine specialist at Virginia Mason. Plenty of vendors will offer lesson and gear-rental packages to first timers.

"The rain and cooler temperatures can be looked at as an opportunity to try something new," Callahan says.

If you're not willing to brave the snow, Callahan says running is one of the more sustainable forms of exercise throughout the year, as long as you wear the right gear. He recommends layering moisture-wicking garments under a waterproof outer layer.

The biggest risk runners face during the winter is cooling down too quickly, Callahan says.

"Be careful not to get really inactive really fast," he says. "That's when you tend to get a chill or hypothermia. Do your cool down inside where it's warm."

Bring your bike inside

If you've been enjoying riding your own bike but fear the elements will slow you down, consider investing in a trainer stand. Rather than paying for a spinning class, Callahan says trainers allow cyclists to use their own bike for an indoor workout. There are also plenty of great DVDs to motivate you from your living room, he says.

Take a stroll

Rather than hiding indoors, Dr. Pooja Tandon, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital, encourages families to enjoy the fall scenery on family walks.

"We live in an area where the temperature is rarely dangerously cold," she says. "Invest in the right kind of gear to be outdoors year round."

Join a class

If you're going to work out indoors, why not try something new? Callahan encourages people to experiment with different exercise classes when the weather gets cold. Better yet, plan to go with a friend.

"When you're having trouble getting going, having a good friend in it with you is encouraging," he says.

Dr. Rosemary Agostini, a sports medicine specialist at Group Health, urges her patients to think about what activities they enjoyed as a kid, such as dance or martial arts, and try returning to those.

Dive into swimming

Seattle is home to many indoor pools that can provide great exercise opportunities, Callahan says. Find the closest one to you online.

Tone up

Callahan says the fall and winter can be a great time to strengthen your core with indoor workouts like yoga or pilates. Purchasing DVDs can be much less expensive than joining group classes.

Consider a community center

If you prefer indoor exercise away from the elements, Callahan advises people to think beyond the high-end, boutique gyms. Consider your local community center, which is likely to be far less expensive.

Make a plan

No matter what time of year it is, Callahan says people who want to stay fit should schedule exercise like an appointment and stick to it. If you do that, one-day holiday splurges shouldn't have much impact on your waistline, he says.

Most importantly, Callahan recommends people get the minimum amount of exercise recommended by the Centers for Disease Control: 30 minutes, five times a week.

"That is the minimum on your side of your health contract," he says. "You have a year-round investment in your health."