The days get shorter, the temperatures drop and the rain starts to fall. Move over, summer. Here comes autumn.
From running and hiking to outdoor boot camps and yoga, there are so many perks to training in the warm weather. But as summer makes way for fall, that doesn’t mean your fitness routine has to stop. In fact, it’s one of the best times to revamp your regimen and embrace some change.
Here’s how to transform your training as the season transitions from summer to fall.
Make sure to layer up
Whether running or walking, your body temperature will rise as you continue to exercise. “A good rule of thumb is to plan your running attire to be a comfortable 10 degrees warmer than the current outside temp,” suggests Kara Deschenes, running expert.
Wear a light jacket, vest or long-sleeve shirt to stay warm at the beginning of your workout; it’s easy to take it off as you heat up. Another suggestion is to look for items that are compressible, so you don’t have bulky items wrapped around your waist while exercising.
Drink enough fluids to stay hydrated
It’s equally as important to drink water during the cooler weather as it is when it’s hot outside. “Cold weather tends to pull moisture out of the air, which makes you dehydrate faster than you might expect,” says Allan Misner, personal trainer and host of 40+ Fitness Podcast.
“The best way to gauge your hydration level is to pay attention to your urine. Your urine should be clear. If it’s yellow — except for the yellow that comes from supplements — or brown, you’re likely in a dehydrated state.”
Change up your moves
While you may love being outdoors during the summer, fall is a great time to commit to something new — inside.
Sign up for a new class, or try intervals on the treadmill. “It’s easy to get stagnant with our workouts and just stick to what we know, but try pushing yourself during this motivating season and commit to something completely different and out of your comfort zone,” shares American Council on Exercise-certified, NYC-based personal trainer Miriam Fried.
Embrace the outdoors
There’s more to fall than vibrant colors and cooler weather. When exercising outside, your body burns more calories.
“The extra energy required to keep your body warm burns additional calories and causes your body to change body fat from white to brown. Brown body fat is more metabolically active. This is a win-win,” shares Misner.
Another bonus is the fall wind and uneven terrain you encounter. “Outdoor terrain is unpredictable, so the body uses more muscles to navigate the slightly unstable surface,” says Janis Isaman, owner of My Body Couture.
“So even if the sidewalk seems even, running around other pedestrians, over the manholes and up and down curbs isn’t as stable as a treadmill, and you use more muscles.”
Plan for Daylight Savings Time
While you may run during the fall to take advantage of the milder temperatures, you’ll also want to remember the time change. The shorter days mean you’ll be running in the dark if you’re an early morning or night runner.
Remember to wear reflective gear and a headlamp so you can be seen in dimmer conditions. Or, switch up your training time and embrace a later morning run, lunchtime workout or early evening sweat sesh.
Protect your skin
Don’t let the cooler air fool you. The sun’s rays are still harmful to your skin, even in the chilly temps. Before trekking outside, lather on sunscreen that has UVA and UVB protection.
Turn fall chores into a workout
The orange-red fall leaves are breathtaking to stare at, but a pain to clean up. However, you can turn raking leaves into a scorching workout.
Savor fall-favorite eats
Fall brings so many tasty flavors. There are many ways to add the ubiquitous pumpkin into your diet: soup, hummus, pasta, curry, smoothie, seeds and more.
“Did you know that pumpkin contains high amounts of fiber, potassium and vitamin C? Try this high-protein pumpkin bread for a healthy, delicious fall treat,” shares Fried.
Check out these other tasty pumpkin recipes for easy-to-make ideas.
Don’t forget to stretch
The cooler temps will make your muscles a bit tighter. It’s important to do a good warm-up before your workouts, whether you’re heading outdoors or staying inside.
“Even if a person exercises in a gym, their body will be cooler than it was in the summer just coming in from outside. As a result, they may require more warm-up sets or stretching to make sure their muscles and tendons and ligaments are as supple as they were in the summer,” says Robert Herbst, personal trainer, coach and powerlifter.
Don’t forget to cool down after your workout to prevent any injuries. If you’re bad at stretching, you can treat yourself to a massage to flush out lactic acid and keep your muscles elongated.
Use this time to commit to your long-term goals
Want to be ready for your race in the spring or beach vacation for summer? Use fall as your starting point to reach your goal.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make in their fitness journeys is looking for a quick fix — wanting to make changes in a matter of days or weeks. Often, when they inevitably don’t, they give up. Take advantage of the start of a new season by setting a long-term goal,” suggests Fried.
Hire a trainer and buy sessions in bulk for accountability. Sign up for a class that lasts a few months or purchase a membership to a gym. “The more seriously you take your goals, the more likely you are to reach them,” Fried says.
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