For months it has been too hot to exercise outdoors. We’ve written many blogs about tips for staying cool outside, only going out early in the day, sticking to the shade or just avoiding it and waiting for the weather to change. For most of the country, the weather has cooled off.
It’s been a while since many of us exercised outside. We’ve been zipping from our front doors to our air-conditioned cars. Exercising outdoors requires a few steps to be safe and enjoyable. But it’s more fun than working out inside. As exercising boosts your immune system, it’s essential to get your steps in as we enter flu season.
The first thing to keep in mind is the lighting. It’s getting light later in the morning and dark earlier in the evening. A handheld torch or headlamp helps you see what you’re doing. And they help people see you. That’s vital if you are exercising in the street or on a road without a sidewalk. Light-colored or neon clothing or reflective things that catch headlights also protect you. Don’t wear dark clothes and then run in the street.
Speaking of road safety, only use one earbud when you listen to music or a podcast while exercising outside. You need to be able to hear traffic and other people. And your outfit to accompany your earbuds should be layered. Every year, regardless of fashion trends, layers are in for fall workouts! You want at least three: a moisture-wicking underlayer, a warm layer and a light waterproof cover for the wind and rain. Visors or hats with a brim also help you exercise on rainy days. We prefer hats as they keep your head dry and the water out of your eyes. Gloves, warm socks and shoes that match the weather will keep you outside and enjoying yourself for as long as possible.
If you’re worried about exercising near roads, reach out to schools in your area. Many high schools have tracks or stadiums they let the public use. Some don’t allow it, so check first. There might be sporting events and practices you have to plan around.
Another key to enjoying exercise in the fall is staying hydrated. It’s easy to forget because you don’t feel as hot. But you are still losing moisture. When you’re cold, your body releases a hormone that can inhibit how thirsty you feel. So be sure to drink. You burn more calories working out in the cold, so you may need more water and food than you usually do after a workout.
Of course, there is also the important lesson of knowing when not to go out. Summer showers are over, but fall storms are here. Even when there aren’t hurricanes like the one currently pounding the southeast, an average fall thunderstorm can pose a danger. You shouldn’t exercise outdoors when there is a risk of lightning. And, on days when it’s below -10 F, you’re at high risk for frostbite.
It’s time to get off the treadmill and outside. Cleaning up your yard from the fall leaves can be a great way to get a good workout and accomplish a necessary task all at once. Just remember to take it easy and go slow if you haven’t been exercising over the summer. Pushing yourself hard will backfire.
Kayaking, biking, yard work, hiking, nice walks and games of football and basketball in the yard are in season! You can look around on social media to find local exercise groups for people to work out with who are interested in doing the same sort of exercise. It’s a great way to be outdoors more and make new friends. The social aspect of it will help you stick with your new fall workout routine!