7 Tips for Exercising this Fall
Warm Up Before Working Out
It’s even more important to warm up your muscles before a workout when it’s cold outside. Cold muscles don’t perform as well as warm ones, which can increase your risk of injury and decrease the overall effectiveness of your workout. If you’re about to head outside in the cool air for a run, try warming up indoors with some dynamic movements first. A warm up of 10-20 repetitions of walking lunges, body weight squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and knee hugs can serve as an effective way to raise your heart rate and loosen joints and muscles before heading outside. Trust me, it’s much easier to head out the door for a run if you start by already feeling warm.
Get Outside and Enjoy the Foliage
Many people consider fall to be their favorite season due to the change in weather and the beautiful scenery of leaves changing color. Take advantage of the outdoor adventures in your area before winter rolls in. Search online for local parks and trails to enjoy a nice hike or bike ride amid the colorful leaves. There is a great app called "AllTrails" that automatically searches your area and shows local trails close to your location. It includes a trail map, a difficulty rating, and even pictures so you can choose the best trail for you. Even apple picking or pumpkin gathering can be a great way to get families outdoors, burn some calories, and enjoy the fall weather.
The wife and I love to explore local waterfall hiking trails in our area. No matter how difficult the hike is, the reward at the end is almost always worth it.
Dress in Layers
The change in season brings about a change in the weather. Over the next several weeks/months, temperatures will gradually decrease making it important to layer up. Invest in breathable, moisture-wicking clothing to keep close to your skin as base layers. Keeping dry helps you maintain a cool body temperature in the summer and avoid hypothermia in the winter. The next layers are for insulation and possibly weather protection if the situation permits. Fleeces are a popular choice for fall weather as they help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Nowadays, they are even available in different weights and thicknesses to provide solutions for every weather scenario. In the end, layering your clothing is a proven method to maximize your comfort in the outdoors.
Exercise While Watching TV
Many people get excited for fall premieres of their favorite television shows. If you’re going to sit down and watch hours of TV, multitask by exercising at the same time. Growing up, my mother used to walk on the treadmill every morning while watching the news. She even wore noise-cancelling headphones that synched up to the television making it easier for her to hear without having to blast the volume and wake up everyone else in the house. In a 1 hour show on television, there are probably close to 20 minutes worth of commercials. That’s a great opportunity to do some push-ups, sit-ups, or body weight squats while you wait for your show to come back on. I usually keep a light pair of dumbbells next to the coach on Sundays to do a few exercises during the Steelers game. Standing lunges, bicep curls, couch dips, or shoulder press are all great options to try during your next Netflix binge.
Even though the weather is cooling off, hydration is still equally important during the months of fall. It’s common to not feel as thirsty when you’re exercising in the cooler weather and for many, the thought of drinking cold water on a cold day can be unappealing. Try drinking more tea during your fall workouts as a great way to stay warm and hydrated. Green tea is well documented for its many health benefits. It is loaded with powerful antioxidants that can reduce the formation of free radicals and protect cells and molecules from damage. Some studies have found that green tea can even boost your metabolic rate and increase fat burning for a short period of time. If you are looking for a great pick-me-up option in the morning, try black tea as it contains almost twice as much caffeine as green tea. While green and black tea contain less caffeine than coffee, there is still enough to produce a response without causing the “jittery” effects associated with too much caffeine.
Exercise Earlier in the Day
One of the best ways to enjoy fall is to exercise outdoors, however shorter days mean darker mornings and earlier sunsets in the evening, which can make it feel later in the day than it actually is. For many, this can cause us to feel more tired than usual. Getting in a routine of exercising earlier in the day will guarantee that your workout will get done and it will leave time in the afternoons and evenings to relax. That being said, the darker evenings shouldn’t discourage you from exercising outdoors. We just have to be smart about it and plan ahead of time. Nowadays, there are many companies building reflective properties into their workout clothes, better illuminating you to drivers on the road. Bike riders should invest in headlights and flashing tail lights to increase their visibility and presence on the roads and trails. Many people run with their cell phones, which can also double as a flashlight for areas that are particularly hard to see.
Find your motivation
With warmer weather and beach vacations, finding motivation to exercise in the summer isn’t hard for most people. But when the weather begins to change and sunlight isn’t as plentiful as it used to be, it can be much easier to lose your motivation to strap on your running shoes and hit the pavement. Because people are motivated by different things, it’s important to first discover what your individual goals are (weight loss, increases strength, athletic performance) and then come up with a game plan. Being motivated by challenges, I recently decided to sign up for my first half marathon. I know that by having that race date (Spring 2017) looming over my head, it will hold me more accountable to stay consistent with my running throughout the fall and winter. No matter what motivates you to get moving, start by thinking about your individual fitness goals and then develop smaller, more manageable goals to keep you on the right track. SMART goals can be a great tool for this. Learn more about them here.