While in some parts of the country it feels like summer simply won’t let up, in other parts the cooler temperatures are really starting to set in.
As you make adventurous plans to exercise outdoors this fall, whether it’s hiking, cycling, jogging, you name it, keep these four important cold weather fitness tips in mind.
Exercising in cooler temperatures is different than exercising in the heat – that can’t be denied. When you’re working out, and it is hot or humid outside, you might feel thirstier and sweat more. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to hydrate just as much during fall and winter workouts though.
Women over 50 will sweat out between 25 and 50 oz. of fluid during an hour of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise. However, it is critical that you replace not just the water you lose during exercise but the electrolytes too, even in cooler weather months.
Cold, dry outdoor air is also less humid and tends to leach moisture from your body more than warm, humid air. That means your skin, nasal passages, and even your throat could pay the price if you are not staying hydrated.
In addition to wearing layers to protect yourself from cold wind chills, you’ll want to be mindful of the rising and setting sun too. Don’t let the cooler weather fool you – the sun is shining just as bright as it always does which means that UV rays are making it to your skin, even through fluffy, fall clouds.
If you are ever spending more than 10 minutes outside at a time, plan on applying sunblock or covering any open skin with light layers of clothing and accessories, i.e., sunglasses, hat, etc.
Autumn also signals the time when the sun starts setting earlier and days become shorter and shorter. Don’t get caught off-guard in the evening with a setting sun and dark, camouflaged clothing.
If you ever plan on exercising outdoors around dusk or early in the morning, find bright-colored or reflective clothing that will ensure you can be seen, especially by cars on the street.
Does your arthritis pain seem to flare up during cold or damp weather? You’re not alone. Low-pressure systems and sudden changes in temperature can oftentimes lead to painful joint inflammation and stiffness – whether it’s in your hands, knees, back, feet, you name it.
If cold-weather pain flare-ups are keeping you from getting your regular exercise, that could be having a more negative effect on your health than you realize.
In your 60s, exercise helps you avoid weight gain that can exacerbate arthritis and promotes strength and flexibility to offset joint stress. Pain that prohibits even low-impact exercise, especially knee and leg pain, should be addressed by you and your physician.
You never know, a knee ache could be cartilage degeneration that requires arthritis medication or it could be IT band syndrome that is simply aided by an IT band strap to reduce knee strain and friction.
Using cooler weather as an excuse to avoid physical activity outside will only hinder your physical fitness in the long-term.
Monitor the Weather
While a crisp, sunny fall day might seem like a dream environment for your afternoon hike, a fast-moving thunderstorm can quickly endanger your plans for outdoor fun. Monitoring your local weather is critical to safe cool-weather fitness and may take a little more foresight than quickly scanning a daily forecast.
In addition to keeping an eye on the local radar, as the weather cools off, you’ll want to monitor the wind chill. Make sure that you are prepared for temperatures that suddenly drop because of strong winds or which bring in inclement conditions like ice, sleet, snow or freezing rain.
If you need weather info on the go, use apps on your smartphone like DarkSky or Weather.com to track the forecast and make outdoor fitness plans accordingly.
If it is going to be pretty cool outside, don’t forget to layer up. Exercising in heavy clothing will only make you sweat more which in turn can make you colder as you cool off and your damp clothes stick to your skin.
Wearing light layers, on the other hand, allows you to remove and replace pieces of clothing as you heat up and cool off.
What are some of your favorite cool weather outdoor exercises? Do you have additional tips for exercising outside during the fall? Let’s chat about it in the comments below.