10 Tips for Fall Fitness
by Eliza Martinez
Exercising year-round is a good way to control your weight and improve your health. But workouts in the fall might differ from those in the warmer months. You might have to change your routine based on weather conditions and the amount of light available outdoors, but exercising throughout the fall is possible. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
The fall months often bring a change in weather, resulting in snow, sleet or rain. These conditions may make it difficult or impossible to exercise outdoors. Have a plan for an alternate form of exercise. For example, if you regularly run in the morning, purchase a treadmill for indoor runs in inclement weather. Or head to the gym and run on an indoor track.
If you plan to head out in cold fall weather, wear several layers. The air will feel cold at the beginning of your workout, but you’ll heat up quickly. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics, especially in damp weather and peel off layers as you begin to sweat.
Cold muscles don’t perform as well as warmed-up ones, which increases your risk of injury and may decrease the effectiveness of your workout. Warm up indoors to get the blood flowing to your muscles. When you hit the cold fall air, your muscles will already be warm and you’ll be ready to exercise.
Cover Your Extremities
Even if you feel hot while exercising in cold fall air, your extremities may be in danger of frostbite. Wear gloves to protect your hands, a scarf to warm your neck and chin and a hat to keep your head warm. Wear warms socks and shoes as well to keep your feet insulated.
Drink plenty of fluids, even if you’re not sweating as much as usual. Water is also a good way to prevent the loss of body heat. Carry a water bottle with you and drink before, during and after your fall workout.
Don’t Exercise on Snow or Ice
If fall weather produces snow and ice, avoid exercising outdoors. These conditions increase the risk of falls, strains and sprains. If you fall down, you could injure your head, break a bone or sustain a back injury. Move your workout indoors until snow and ice melt.
Sunburns increase your risk of skin cancer. Even if the sky is cloudy and overcast in the fall, apply sunscreen to any exposed skin to block damaging UV rays. If you plan to exercise for extended periods of time, reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Bring a Light
Sunrise comes later and sunset comes earlier during fall months. If you work out in the morning or evening, you may be doing so in the dark. Wear a headlamp, apply reflective strips to your clothing or carry a flashlight. This allows others to see you, preventing an accident.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Many people crave higher calorie foods in the fall, but this might make your normal workout more difficult and result in weight gain. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group. This gives you the nutrients you need to fuel fall exercise sessions.
Bring a Friend
If the cold weather and reduced sunlight in the fall dampen your motivation, ask a friend to join you for a workout. Take a walk or bike ride and enjoy the sight of the leaves changing color. An exercise buddy often increases motivation and holds you accountable.