By Cheryl Shaw, Grace Cottage Hospital Health Coach
Summer is a natural time for outdoor sports, exercise, and activities. Now, as autumn arrives, you may find yourself challenged to keep up the workout routine you established during warmer, “longer-day” months.
For most healthy adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of both. Of course, in order to determine the best level for you, have a consultation with your provider first.
Once you know what type of activity is best for you, how will you keep your routine going when days are shorter, the weather is darker and cooler, and the pull toward seasonal comfort foods kicks in?
The best solution is to prepare and think ahead. Here are some tips. Maybe one or more of these will work for you:
- Find your best time to work out: is it best first thing in the morning? In the evening? Are there any niches of time, such as a lunch break or during your child’s sport practice? You may need to adjust your workout time to the afternoon hours for safety’s sake. Assess your schedule and make a plan.
- For those with busy schedules,exercising for longer on days when more time is available, or breaking workouts into several 10-minute increments throughout the day may help. Here’s an idea: you could turn on music and dance for ten minutes while dinner is cooking, or walk around the house during TV commercial breaks. You could walk around the parking lot before going into work, or into a store for an errand. Look for little bits of time here and there.
- It’s been quite hot for much of this summer. Take advantage of the weather this fall. Cool, crisp air makes exercise more comfortable for walking, jogging and hiking.
- Wear the right clothing for the weather such as layers, gloves, a headband or cap, and you will feel glad you got outdoors!
- If you have been exercising regularly, how about a shorter-duration vigorous cardiovascular workout? Notch it up a bit, and squeeze in a 20-minute high-intensity workout.
- Set realistic expectations. It just may be more difficult to navigate the shorter, darker, colder, sometimes inclement days, so don’t expect perfection, as that can set you up for feelings of inadequacy and failure. Accept that the weather may not always cooperate. Have a Plan B, make alternative arrangements, or just get back on track as soon as you can.
- Set a goal, as this helps keep you focused. Register for a race or a 5K walk-a-thon to benefit a favorite cause. Make it your goal to hike a challenging nearby mountain, like Mt. Greylock in Adams, MA; Stratton or Bromley in Vermont; or Mt. Monadnock in Jaffrey, NH.
- Include in your plan some workouts you can do at home. A convenient exercise location can be your own living room. Thanks to exercise DVDs, YouTube channels, and mobile apps, you may not need to go to a gym or own any fancy equipment. Seek out inexpensive equipment for your home such as rubber tubing for strengthening exercises, a mini-trampoline, a hula hoop, or just dancing to your favorite music. Bodyweight exercises require no equipment (think push-ups, squats, crunches). Make exercise fun!
- Team up with family and friends. Encourage your family, friends, and children to join you for a walk, run, hike, or fitness class. Find a walking buddy who will commit to meeting you once or twice a week. Exercise partners can help keep motivation high and create accountability.
- Keep an activity log or journal. A Word document will do. Record your exercise by writing it down; you may notice patterns. Also, you can look back and see how much you have accomplished!
Planning ahead can make all the difference in the world, helping you to stay healthy throughout the seasons. I can help you come up with a plan, if that would help. You can reach me at 802-365-3766.
Cheryl Shaw is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and Certified Exercise Physiologist. As a Health Coach, Cheryl enjoys helping individuals create a wellness vision. She draws out the motivation people need to make lasting lifestyle changes and to realize their vision of optimal health. Cheryl meets with clients at Grace Cottage on Mondays and Fridays.