As fall approaches, it’s more important than ever to stay in shape. People are more vulnerable to seasonal illnesses such as the flu during the cooler months, so getting your body in great condition helps boost your immunity and keep sickness at bay. But it can be hard to keep motivated during the cooler months, especially if you train outside.
At JAG Physical Therapy, we’re committed to delivering excellent sports medicine care and helping all our patients maintain an active lifestyle regardless of the season. Contact us today, find your nearest location, or read further to learn more about how you can continue to attain your fitness goals in the fall weather.
Seasonal Activity Modifications
You can still exercise outdoors during fall, but you may need to make a few tweaks to your routine.
Dressing in layers is key. Your first layer should be light and wick sweat away from your skin. Your middle layer needs to keep you warm, so a light fleece is ideal. And your outer layer should shield you from the elements, so choose something that’s waterproof and windproof.
During fall, always have a plan B in case the weather makes it difficult to exercise outside. It’s easy to work out at home — invest in a few simple pieces of kit like a yoga mat, skipping rope, and weights so you can create a workout setup that suits you.
When the weather is colder, it takes our bodies longer to warm up. So, make sure you extend your warm-up sessions by five or 10 minutes in chilly temperatures. You should also pay attention to any part of your body that feels stiff and give it a bit of extra focus.
Know that it’s normal to feel your muscles working when you exercise. But be sure to stop your activity if you feel sudden or significant pain and get checked out by a health professional.
Remember, if you have any old injuries or weaknesses in particular joints, it’s best to seek rehabilitation advice from your physical therapist. The skilled staff at JAG PT can offer you a customized program, which may include manual therapy or other modalities, to help heal your injury and ensure that it’s safe to continue your fall fitness program.
Flexibility and Mobility Work
Focusing on your flexibility and mobility during fall will help set you up for the harsher months ahead.
You may want to try some activities that are designed to increase your flexibility and mobility. These include:
- Tai chi
If you have a specific issue where you lack mobility in a part of your body, then your physical therapist will be able to show you some targeted exercises to help release tension and restore flexibility.
Exercise is not just about endurance and getting an aerobic workout. It’s important to improve and maintain your strength too. Strong, healthy muscles will help you carry out your daily activities, improve your balance, and prevent falls.
As part of your fall activity program, include strengthening exercises. You can use weights or resistance bands, moving on to heavier weights or stronger bands once the activity becomes easy.
Aim to do strength exercises that involve all your major muscle groups on two non-consecutive days a week to help build up your strength.
Balance and Stability Training
Work on balance and stability now, before hazardous weather sets in and the risk of falls increases.
You can do this by strengthening your core and leg muscles, which help to keep you upright. You may also want to try tai chi, which combines slow, gentle movements to promote balance, strength, and mental well-being. This is a great all-around exercise method that you can practice outdoors if the weather allows or indoors on colder, darker days.
Your physical therapist at JAG PT can also help with slip and fall prevention, offering advice and showing you specific exercises to help improve your balance.
Outdoor Fitness Programs
Fall is the perfect time for outdoor fitness programs, allowing you to enjoy the fresh air and cooler temperatures.
Look for organized outdoor fitness programs in your neighborhood or create your own exercise schedule that makes the most of your outdoor space. Activities could include:
- Running laps around your local park, with short bursts of sprinting to increase your heart rate
- Hiking to work your lower body and get a cardiovascular workout
- Cycling to target your lower body and enjoy the fall scenery too
Posture and Body Mechanics
Check your posture and body mechanics before you embark on a new exercise program to prevent injury and get the max out of your activities.
Know that your posture is how you hold your body when sitting, standing, or lying down, while body mechanics is all about the way you move.
You can visit your nearest JAG PT location to get these aspects checked out and receive advice on improving your posture and body mechanics. For example, you can have gait analysis performed to know whether your body is properly supported while you run and to identify any issues that could lead to injury.
Rehabilitation and Recovery
Don’t forget the usual common-sense advice about recovering from illness or injury: stay hydrated (essential, even during colder weather); eat a healthy, balanced diet; and practice techniques such as meditation or mindfulness for your emotional well-being.
Reintroduce gentle physical activity slowly, preferably with the help of your physical therapist. They can help you regain your former fitness and mobility with a safe and effective program of exercise and rehabilitation, and can help with specific issues such as recovery after surgery.
JAG PT Supports Your Year-Round Fitness
Think of fall as your fresh start to fitness — it’s the ideal time to try a new regime and take advantage of the crisper air to exercise outdoors.
By observing the safety rules above, you will be able to hit your fitness goals and go into fall and winter in great shape. And for any help with your exercise program, recovering from injury, or making the most of your mobility, come and see our experienced physical therapists at a JAG PT clinic near you. Schedule an appointment today or contact us with any questions.