The end of summer signifies several transitions: the start of the new school year, diminishing sunlight and the last time you might be able to indulge in that classic smell of chlorine by the poolside for at least another year. The crisp fall air, sightings of colorful and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and the red hues in the sky put an end to a busy and vitamin D-rich summer.
Regardless of whether your new year’s resolutions included acquiring a summer beach body, adopting and following a fitness routine in the summer feels easier than any other time during the year. Right now, transitioning seasons can slow down fitness progress merely because changing temperatures can affect one’s metabolism and thirst signals; plus, the crisp air makes one want to hit the snooze button a few times when that 5 a.m. workout alarm goes off.
Alternately, the beginning of the fall season is a perfect time to reassess and identify the pitfalls that are keeping you from reaching your goals.
The Pillars of Fall Fitness
Changing weather can bring about both physical and emotional challenges, but planning ahead, reassessing and remaining flexible can help you achieve fitness goals. Autumn goals should include synchronizing your body’s digestion, metabolism and physiological attributes to that of the season. For example, during the summer months, we require additional fluids to prevent dehydration. Whether you choose to abide by that rule or are the rebellious type, your body processes will force you into drinking more water, either through migraines, nausea, acid reflux, body aches or, the worst-case scenario, sudden dizziness and fainting.
During the colder months, dehydration is still a threat, but those signals might be misread. For example, thirst signals might be confused with that of hunger, which is commonly experienced by many during the colder months. Therefore, a simple and concise understanding of the effects of changing weather on one’s body processes can help you acclimate easily.
There are several tricks of the trade when it comes to health and fitness year-round, but if you are looking to learn about simple and effective ways of maintaining your fitness goals while transitioning from the hot and humid summer months to that of cooler and drier fall months, these pillars of fall fitness are important to keep in mind.
1 A Pre-workout Meal:
Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a novice, the debate about whether to eat before a workout session seems to be never-ending. One of the biggest and, frankly, most unscientific myths out there is that working out on an empty stomach can result in fat loss. The truth is, time and again, clinical evidence suggests that providing the right amount and quality of fuel pre-workout will not only prepare the body for the upcoming training session but also for the recovery phase between training days.
Recent findings published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that a pre-exercise breakfast “increases carbohydrate burning during exercise, and that this carbohydrate wasn’t just coming from the breakfast that was just eaten, but also from carbohydrate stored in our muscles as glycogen.” The findings also indicate that consuming breakfast before exercise led to an increased rate at which the body metabolizes carbohydrates and digests and absorbs food eaten after exercise, compared with skipping breakfast.
Meal timing and nutritional value of the pre-workout meal largely depend on the nature of the activity. Keeping with changing weather and transitioning from summer to fall, our bodies crave additional energy; therefore, many experience an increase in appetite. Working out on an empty stomach might be counterproductive, especially if hunger pangs have you dreaming about a large breakfast while trying to balance the asanas during the 6 a.m. yoga session
2 Cold Weather Hydration:
Unlike the hot and humid summer months, our bodies don’t sweat profusely in the colder months; therefore, skipping water and reaching for a cup of sugar-laden hot latte seems like the thing to do. During the colder months, our bodies’ thirst response to dehydration is diminished significantly. This diminished response happens because our blood vessels constrict when we’re cold to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities. (If you’ve ever had cold hands in winter, you know the feeling). However, because of these diminished signals, our bodies are fooled into misreading cues, and the hormones and kidneys do not conserve enough water as urination increases due to colder temperatures. This phenomenon results in dehydration, which during winter months is easily misunderstood for increased appetite signals.
Not consuming sufficient amounts of water during seasonal transitions can slow down fitness performances and lead to frequent body aches, muscle cramps, neurological issues such as anxiety and skin disorders such as wrinkles, acne and overall prematurely aging skin.
3 Fall Chores Can Be the New Fitness Routine:
Fall is synonymous with s’mores and warm apple cider. It is also the time of the year when outdoor chores could be used in lieu of that o-dark-thirty run or HITT class at the gym. Everything from fall gardening to raking leaves can enhance your fitness goals. As a bonus, the cool, crisp air makes for a perfect time to enjoy some hiking or bike riding with the kids and allows your fitness routine to include some family time as well.
4 Antioxidant-Rich Fall:
Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are plentiful in the fall. No other time of the year offers the colorful display of cancer-fighting and neuron-enhancing fruits and vegetables that are available during autumn. Everything from apples to sweet potatoes can help you achieve desired weight loss, beat the bloat or achieve the glowing skin that was featured on your New Year’s resolution list. A fitness routine is complete only when the nutritional goals are designed to enhance the outcome of the physical activities planned. Without optimal nutritional support, no amount of physical activity will yield the abs, biceps, glutes or diabetes- and cancer-free lifestyle you might desire. Nutritional choices found in fall are the best year-round to support the most extensive health goals.
Your Healthy Comeback
If incomplete fitness and health goals on your New Year’s resolutions list have come up short, use the transition between summer and fall as nature’s reset button. There isn’t a more conducive and productive time of the year than fall to wrap up fitness goals before you prepare for the pumpkin pie or the endless Christmas parties in the months to come. Before you know it, 2019 will make an appearance, and these fall fitness transitions will help you to make practical and achievable resolutions in the new year.