How to Keep Your Workouts Outside When the Weather Cools

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Happy black sportswoman running with her dog at the park.
Those long, warm summer nights might be transitioning into cooler weather and fewer hours of daylight to spend outside, but fall doesn’t have to mean all your workouts have to march back indoors.
For a lot of people who look forward to their workouts, autumn is the reward for sweating their way through summer runs, marathon bike sessions and hot-weather hiking. The humidity has dropped, and there’s a good chance you’ll catch a refreshing breeze when you need it most.
While some see this calendar flip to fall as a signal to head back to their local gyms or fitness centers, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the era of coronavirus advises that it is safer to exercise outdoors, when possible. The agency recommends limiting indoor group exercise activity, and seeking outdoor space or options when available.
A study described earlier this year in the Yale School of the Environment publication found that people who spend at least two hours each week outside in nature are more likely to say they are in good health and have a feeling of positive psychological well-being compared to those who are not outside that long.
If you’re new to outdoor exercise, check this guide in A Healthier Michigan for easy things you can do outdoors to improve your fitness.
Even if you are a pro at fresh-air workouts, the switch to fall brings some changes. You will want to plan ahead before you get your heart rate up. Here are some tips:
Clothing: Layering is key in autumn. If your summer workout uniform was shorts and a T-shirt, you’ll likely want to switch to capris or thin pants, topped by a T-shirt and a light, long-sleeved pullover. Other things to remember: 
  • Wear clothing made from material that wicks away sweat. It will keep you more comfortable when the temperatures drop.
  • Wear reflective clothing. If your shirts and pants don’t have reflective striping or designs, use reflective tape to add stripes to the back and front of your shirt and the backs of your shoes. This is especially important if you’re outside before sunrise, at dusk or later.
  • Check your shoes. If you are wearing shoes with mesh tops, switch to a pair that will keep your feet warmer, or wear them with light wool socks.
  • Don’t forget your hat and gloves. As it gets colder, it’s important not to lose too much body heat as you work out. A pair of thin gloves and a hat or earband are easy to keep in your pocket if you need them.
Hydration: While the sun might not be beating down on you, remember that drinking enough water is still important. Always pack a water bottle before you head outside.
Sunscreen: Protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays is vital no matter what the season. Wear sunscreen or a moisturizer with a good SPF. Cover your eyes with sunglasses if it’s bright outside or wear a hat with a brim wide enough to shade your face.
Photo credit: Getty

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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