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Ways to stay active as the weather cools

By Jennifer Larson, contributor

Many of us sigh in relief when summer draws to a close and the weather (finally) cools down. Suddenly, the prospect of a long walk outside no longer feels like punishment designed to make you overheat in the humidity. 


As autumn and winter approach, take advantage of the many opportunities to stay active as the temperature starts to drop. Pick one (or more) and give it a try! You can do almost all of these alone, with a partner, or with your kids. 


Outdoor activities

If you’re planning to spend time outside, be sure to check the weather report and dress appropriately. Don’t forget to check the wind chill, too. 

1. Running

Maybe some of you love running when the temps are soaring, and the humidity makes the air feel like soup. But many of us enjoy it a lot more when it’s not so hot. Make sure to wear properly fitting running shoes and socks that won’t cause blisters. 

2. Hiking

The autumn is a terrific time to hike. Whether you prefer a short, easy trail or a longer, more challenging trek, hiking is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy spending some time in nature. Plus, it’s easy to avoid crowds and germs when you’re out in the woods. If you have kids, let them help you pick a hiking route, or you could make it an opportunity for a visual scavenger hunt, where you look for various bugs, leaves, butterflies, rocks, or plants.

3. Biking

Unless it’s pouring down rain (or snowing), biking can be a great way to get moving in chillier temps. Many communities have biking trails or greenways that are good for putting in a few miles without having to worry about dodging cars. Depending on where you live, you could even run errands by bike. If you don’t have a bike of your own, look into bike share programs—and don’t forget a helmet.

4. Gardening or yardwork

You may groan at the prospect of raking leaves or getting those flower beds all ready for the winter, but yardwork can burn some serious calories and work muscles in different places. Plus, your yard will be the envy of your neighbors. If you don’t have your own yard, look into joining a community garden, where they could put you to work. 

5. Picking apples

Autumn is harvest season for apples. Walking around an orchard and stretching to pick apples is a pleasant way to log some activity. Think of it as a combination of low-impact cardio and flexibility training. Bonus: Fresh fruit to take home and make healthy, delicious treats.


At-home indoor activities


At some point, it might just get too chilly for you to exercise outside. Or maybe you have a medical condition that makes it better to exercise indoors when it’s cold outside (some people find that cold weather triggers their asthma, for example). 


Normally, you might just hit the gym and run on a treadmill or lift some weights. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted that as a go-to choice, though. Here are a few options you can try at home if your local wellness center is closed or not a safe option.  


6. Yoga

True, you can do yoga anywhere, but when it’s cold, you can unroll your mat in the middle of your living room or bedroom floor. If you need some guidance, go online and choose a yoga video to guide you through some sun salutations and other poses. 

7. Indoor circuit 

Work your way through a series of exercises like crunches, pushup, wall-sits, lunges, and others to challenge your body in the privacy of your own home. Bonus points for using resistance bands to make your body work a little harder. 

8. Dancing

Dance it out like nobody’s watching…because they won’t be. Whether you like ‘80s pop hits, hip hop, or show tunes, put on some music and start moving to the beat. Dancing works more parts of your body than you might realize, and you may be able to burn a couple hundred calories in a vigorous half-hour dance workout. Grab your spouse, roommate, or child to make it a group event. 

9. Stationary bike or elliptical trainer

If you have your own gym equipment at home, by all means use it! Walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical while you’re watching TV or talk to a friend on the phone while riding the bike. If you don’t have your own and are thinking of investing, be sure to check local Facebook groups or Craigslist to get a (more affordable) used one.


Stay safe while staying active

Safety is paramount when it comes to being active, no matter what time of year it is. Here are a few things to remember:

Stay hydrated. Even if the weather is cooler, it’s still important to stay hydrated. It’s easy to remember to drink water in the summer when it’s hot, but it might not be at the top of your mind when you’re not sweating quite so much. Bring along a water bottle and take sips at regular intervals. 

Wear sunscreen. You can still get sunburned—even when it’s cool or cloudy (or both) outside. Dermatologists typically recommend applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to all areas of exposed skin when you’re spending time outdoors.

Tell someone where you’re going. If you’re planning a solo run or hike, let someone know where you’ll be, just in case something happens. It’s a good idea to carry your phone with you, too.

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