Staying Active Across the Seasons: Transitioning Your Outdoor Exercise Program from Summer to Fall

by Aisling Toolan and Diana Zotos
Running the fall

September is upon us and the cooler temperatures, shorter evenings and uncertain weather have arrived. But saying goodbye to summer doesn’t mean you must rush indoors to your nearest gym. Fall is a wonderful time to renew your outdoor exercise routine and explore nature’s limitless playground. So get off the beach and into the park– it’s time to embrace the cooler temperatures and colorful changes in the great outdoors.  Here are some tips to help transition your workouts from the hot, endless summer days to the cooler temperatures and shorter evenings of fall that lie ahead:

1. Dress for success: When exercising outdoors in the fall, it’s important to dress for the elements. Wear multiple layers of breathable clothing to keep you warm, which you can peel off gradually as you work up a sweat. A waterproof outer layer will protect you in case of rain. Feeling cold? Be sure to grab a hat on your way out the door. We lose up to 40% of our body heat through our head, so cover up and keep the heat in.

2. Stay hydrated:  While the humid days of summer are behind us, our bodies continue to lose fluid as we cool ourselves through sweating and even through our increased breathing rate. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased endurance, so be sure to stay well hydrated this fall.

3. Safety first: The shorter fall daylight hours mean that it’s more important than ever to make yourself visible to others when exercising outdoors. Reflective accessories, brightly colored clothing and bike lights where appropriate are essential. Be seen and be safe this fall.

4. Get strong for the slopes: With fall comes ski season, and unfortunately, the risk of sustaining an injury on the slopes is considerable. If you think all the running and biking you did this summer have made you strong enough to survive the ski slopes this winter, think again. Resistance training is a vital element of maximizing performance and minimizing your risk of injury. Increasing the strength of your upper body, lower body and the link between the two (your core muscles) will improve your balance and control, and ensure that you finish your downhill runs with a smile on your face. Body weight resistance exercises such as park bench push-ups, park bench step-ups, squats and walking lunges can be performed outdoors without any equipment.

5. Challenge yourself before the holiday season:  Nothing’s more motivating than setting a personal goal. Sign up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in your local area, even if you have never participated in an organized race before. You have plenty of time to build up your endurance for a 5k walk or run, and being active will make you feel great, not guilty, at an overindulgent time of year.

6. Get involved in a team sport or club: There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in an adult sports league, such as ZogSports or the Urban Professionals Athletic League in New York City. Challenge yourself to try a new sport or dust off your skills from years past. Becoming part of a team is an enjoyable way to be active and a great way to meet new people.  If team sports just aren’t your thing, why not sign up for a triathlon or running club? Your like-minded training group will hold you accountable and keep you motivated into the fall and beyond.

Before beginning any exercise program, be sure to consult your physician to ensure it is safe for you to do so.

Aisling Toolan and Diana Zotos are physical therapists at Hospital for Special Surgery. Aisling is a board certified clinical specialist in Sports Physical Therapy and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  She received her doctorate in physical therapy from Stony Brook University. Diana is a Certified Yoga Instructor as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

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The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

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