October is here and with the shorter days and the leaves falling, it’s safe to say that we’re in full fall mode. While that can bring a welcome respite from the heat of summer, there’s one thing to keep in mind: how you’re transitioning your workout and wellness as the seasons shift.
“Staying active and healthy is a good idea no matter what season we’re in, but the fall provides more comfortable weather to be outdoors right before the winter,” says Janelle Krantz, CTRS, a Recreation Therapist in the Therapeutic Recreation Department at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.
Plus, says Justine Lucid, NSCA-CPT, CSPS, from Burke’s Wellness Department and a trainer at the Burke Fitness Center, “Focusing on fitness during the fall is a great way to prevent extra weight gain during the holiday season and boost immune system function throughout the colder months.”
We asked both Krantz and Lucid for some tips on staying active this season:
Pay extra attention to your workout warm-up: “Warm-ups and cool-downs become increasingly important parts of a routine during the colder months,” says Lucid —especially after an illness or injury. “Cold muscles and stiff joints should be loosened up during a progressive warm-up to prevent further injuries—and avoid flare-ups from old ones.”
Make sure you’re staying hydrated. Even though it’s cooler out, it’s still important to take in water—both from drinks and food. “Some important things to remember: We are dehydrated by the time we actually feel thirsty,” says Lucid, “And up to a fifth of our water comes from fruits and veggies, which most people tend to eat more of during the summer months.” How to help? She suggests taking advantage of area farmer’s markets to stock up on in-season fruits and vegetables. Butternut squash soup, roasted root veggies and stews are all great fall favorites. And don’t forget: hot beverages count towards hydration, so sip on that soothing tea post-walk.
Take advantage of fall-themed activities. There are tons of different festivals and activities happening this season—that provide a perfect opportunity to get up and moving. “Walk, hike, go apple or pumpkin picking, make your way through a corn maze! Outdoor exercising is a great option, especially for cardio sessions,” says Lucid. Even simply spending time with friends can be great for your mental wellbeing: “Go out to dinner, volunteer with a local organization, watch a Broadway show or attend a sporting event,” suggests Krantz.
Consider trying an adaptive sport. “Fall gives us a fresh start—and that includes the idea of participating in an adapted sport,” says Krantz, who volunteers with Burke’s adaptive sports program. “Fall is also a good time to be involved in adapted sports because athletes have the chance to try a variety of sports—and potentially compete in the new year in a sport they find interesting,” she explains. At Burke, that means you could try anything from table tennis to hand cycling to adaptive yoga or, as the weather gets colder, adaptive alpine skiing.
Keep it up. “Local pamphlets highlight recreation activities all season long—knowing what your interests are and your skill set allows each of us success with involvement in different activities. Challenge yourself to pick appropriate activities for the season, and then search online for local events happening throughout the year for you to be involved in,” says Krantz. Lucid echoes the sentiment of keeping up with your fitness now—and as the year goes on. “We all wish that we could hibernate during the colder months, but it is imperative to maintain an active, balanced lifestyle in order to enjoy optimal health,” she advises. “As opposed to setting extreme goals on a seasonal basis, making exercise a part of life throughout the year will bring out the best version of you.”