We love Autumn! While the summer is fantastic, Autumn is perhaps the most dynamic and interesting season – almost every day we look outside and see something just a little bit different. No matter the season, exercise is always important and a critical aspect of maintaining good spinal health, but depending on the way YOU feel, what you see out of your window might look like an exciting challenge… or a miserable slog. Here’s some tips to help you stay active as the seasons change.
Change up the location
As the seasons change it can be slightly depressing to see our favourite summer spots looking a bit drab – but the flip side is that all sots of other outdoor spaces start to really shine. Taking a run or a jog through the forest can be a totally different experience as autumn goes on, and as the colours start to change you can enjoy a different outlook almost each time you visit!
As temperatures fall and the sun becomes a bit more scarce, many popular places also become much less busy – if you like to run or jog you may well find that a riverside workout session is much more peaceful in the Autumn!
Ironically, if you’ve made a great effort throughout the summer and have a set routine which is moving you towards your goals you actually might find it more difficult to change things up – why fix what isn’t broken? Nonetheless, keep in mind that it’s better to mix things up before you get demotivated, so perhaps give a different route a try!
Stay Outdoors for your Workouts
Many of us move our workouts indoors as the colder weather approaches, and while that makes sense to some extent it actually might not be the most motivating choice – or the best for your mental health. Spending time in nature can help reduce stress, according to a 2010 study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Even 20 minutes of outdoor exercise can make a big difference, and you can easily fit it in during lunchtime, on your walk home from work, or after dinner before sunset – time might be a bit tighter, but as it gets colder you might want to move that bit faster anyway!
We’ve just encouraged you to head outside, so it’s worth also mentioning that safe and enjoyable exercise throughout the colder months means having the right equipment. Not only does staying warm enough make a difference to your physical comfort, keeping the body at a good working temperature helps to avoid the risk of trips, strains, falls and other injuries. You can certainly invest in wind/waterproof shells, smartwool socks, etc, but if you’re looking for a cheap and simple alternative, just adopt the “layering” approach. Rather than wearing one large thermal jacket, opt for two or three lighter layers, and strip them off as you get warmer – just put one back on if you feel yourself getting cold.
Choose a suitable route
Whether you’re hiking, walking, running or even biking, the latter part of the year does come with some unique challenges. Early autumn often means softer “springy” ground which is great for reducing the impact on your joints and help you to maintain optimum coordination – much the same can be said of spring. Summer, with the hard dry conditions it brings, and winter with its cold and frozen ones mean less than ideal conditions for most exercise forms. If you can, opt for an established trail or at least a surface which will remain relatively level. Many parks have trails designed to be softer under foot and these can be a great choice this time of year. Watch out for ice and early morning dew, both of which contribute to trips and falls!
Work Out With a Buddy
As beautiful as autumn can be there are some drawbacks – the mornings are getting cold, and the evenings are getting dark…. If getting motivated seems like a real challenge consider working out with a buddy. Some people enjoy being outside and relish the challenge of whatever mother nature throws at us… other people, not so much! If working out through the colder months just feels like a drag, working out with a buddy can help you to stay accountable and can also provide companionship, motivation and perhaps distraction from that freezing wind!!
 Jesper J Alvarsson, Stress Recovery during Exposure to Nature Sound and Environmental Noise, Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Mar; 7(3): 1036–1046.