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Mile after mile: Fitness centers offer motivational program

People take part in the 2014 Turkey Trot 5K/10K run Nov. 22 next to the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center. People can earn miles for the Run/Walk Mileage Club by participating in any of the runs on post, as well as during their own workout times. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

People take part in the 2014 Turkey Trot 5K/10K run Nov. 22 next to the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Center. People can earn miles for the Run/Walk Mileage Club by participating in any of the runs on post, as well as during their own workout times. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: November 28, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 28, 2014) -- Fort Rucker is home to many avid walkers and runners, and the Fort Rucker fitness centers host a program to keep people motivated when setting out on their leisurely strolls.

The Run/Walk Mileage Club, offered at both Fort Rucker fitness centers, is a free program designed to be a motivational tool to help people on the installation get fit at their own pace, while providing a way to keep track of their progress, said Kris Rach, fitness specialist and certified personal trainer.

The program is an honor-based system in which participants track their miles from month to month. People can rack up their miles by running indoors on treadmills, or outdoors on tracks and trails, wherever they feel the most comfortable, said the fitness specialist.

“This is just an incentive to give people a way to challenge themselves,” said Rach. “They may see that this month they ran 20 miles, so the next month they can try for 25 or 30. It’s just a good way to hold yourself accountable and work toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s a good way to get out and challenge yourself.”

Participants are awarded patches for hitting certain milestones, and results are posted each month in the physical fitness centers so that members can see exactly how far they’ve come, as well as compare themselves to others.

“Some people just need extra motivation to work out – they need somebody to push them,” said Rach. “Normally when using an honor-based system, people only have to answer to themselves, but if it’s posted where everybody can see, then it becomes a bit of a competition. People will walk by and see, so that might be a motivational tool for some.”

Since the temperatures have been dropping recently, Rach said people should make sure to dress accordingly and make the necessary adjustments to their workout to account for lower temperatures.

Some of her recommendations for cold weather exercising include the following.

Check with your doctor. Experts say that almost everyone can exercise safely in the cold, including people with asthma and heart problems, but if you have health concerns, get your doctor’s “OK.”

Wear layers. One of the biggest mistakes cold-weather exercisers make is not dressing appropriately. Exercise will warm you up, and it will feel warmer than it is. You will be sweating, so make sure you don’t have cotton as the layer closest to you because it will stay wet and you can get chilled. Start with a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, which draws sweat away from the body. For the next layer, try fleece for insulation and top it off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer.

Stretch, stretch, stretch. Double your time stretching prior to heading out, especially if you’re heading out in the early morning. Stretching increases flexibility, improves range of motion and helps get the blood moving, which gets more oxygen circulating.

Keep hydrated. You can lose more water in cold weather than when it’s warm and not realize it because it’s cold. Make sure to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Protect your extremities. When it’s cold, blood is shunted to your body’s core, leaving the hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite in extreme temperatures. Try wearing a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece. Wearing exercise shoes that are a half-size larger to allow room for thick thermal socks or extra pair of regular socks can also help. Don’t forget to wear a hat or headband – 30 to 40 percent of the body’s heat is lost through the head.

Choose appropriate gear. The terrain may change due to weather conditions, so you may need to wear different shoes to prevent slips and falls. Additionally, don’t forget to wear sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses to protect from UV rays and to keep the glare down to improve visibility.

Run into the wind at the beginning. If you are going out and back, run into the wind to begin with. That way you won’t get chilled because the wind will be at your back on the way back.

For more information on the club, call 255-2296 or 255-3794.

This article was originally published at

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