women

Exercise Is Year-Round : Fitness in fall, Exercising in winter, Spring training for summer sports

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1. Fitness in fall

The fall is one of the best seasons to do outdoor activities. The cooler days are refreshing, there's still a lot of daylight, and it's an energetic time of year.

A hike in the woods and fields is great both for your camera and your body. Take your binoculars too, because wildlife can be very active at this time of year, especially early in the morning or just before sunset. For the inner naturalist in you, have some fun identifying the plants, birds, and animals. In the wild, I've seen moose, beaver, deer, black bears, coyotes, and wolves. The fish are still biting too—you just need to do a little research on the best fishing holes.

If you live in a fruit-growing area where there is an autumn harvest, you can go apple picking. Your arm muscles in particular can get a great strength workout from reaching up to pick the fruit. Carrying the full baskets to the checkout area and loading them into your car is exercise too!

If you have kids, raking leaves can be made into a game—building a really high pile of leaves and jumping into them. After the fun is over, have them help you bag them and take them to the curb.

Years ago, many communities held fall corn roasts. There were always outdoor games, races, and contests that got people moving around, having a great time together, and filling the air with laughter. If your community doesn't have a fall corn or wiener roast, then why not plan your own in your backyard or a nearby park? Everyone can pitch in with ideas and sporting equipment such as Frisbees, baseballs, or footballs.

Another thing about the fall is that it is a prime time for people to join fitness clubs. What a great idea to shed a few pounds so you have some wiggle room for the upcoming holiday feasting!

2. Exercising in winter

There is something about winter that makes it one of my favorite times of the year. Skating, skiing, sledding, or snowshoeing are all things that you can only do in the winter. A couple of times a year I go heli-skiing with friends—a helicopter drops us into fresh powder at the top of the mountains in British Columbia. I love the feeling of sinking up to my armpits in the snow and then twisting and turning my way down a steep incline on my skis. I find myself laughing out loud as I ski, just from the sheer joy of it.

How do you dress for being active in the cold? Most important, keep your feet and hands dry, so invest in some good socks and gloves. You'll also need weather-sealed boots that keep your feet warm and allow them to breathe.

We lose a lot of body heat through our heads, so it's important to wear a hat. If the wind chill is strong, keep your head warm. The rest of your clothing should be multilayered because the weather can vary a lot in winter, as can your level of exertion. It's best to wear clothing made from "wick-away" material (absorbs sweat) next to your skin and then two or three more layers. That gives you the option to take some of it off if you need to. And wear long underwear! People tend to get tight hamstrings and soreness from their legs getting cold. They are wearing lots on the upper body but not enough on the lower body.

If your physical activity involves wind and sun, don't forget sunscreen lotion and winter sunglasses.

Water is as essential in the winter as in the summer, yet often forgotten. Carrying water for any length of time need not present a problem. Simply use an insulated covering for your water bottle found at most outdoor stores.

3. Spring training for summer sports

Popular sports such as golf, cycling, and running—great spring and summer sports—all benefit from sport-specific training. That means getting the required muscles in shape as well as paying attention to your cardio.

For example, if you are a golfer, you need total body conditioning to play your best game. Golf is a total-body activity. Let's take your swing for starters. For a good swing, your entire body has to be stable and strong. Strengthening your core will help your back and hips (essential in the swing). Legs get a workout from walking the course so ditch that golf cart, if possible. All golfers want their drive to go farther (straight is good too!) so think about how much better you would be at executing your swing if you were stronger, more balanced, and flexible.

Other physical activities to get started on in spring are cycling and running. Start by taking fifteen- to twenty-minute bike rides in your neighborhood. You will be able to tell very quickly if your bike needs adjustments or repairs. It's a great way to get reacquainted with the controls and the biomechanics of your body. It's a good idea to stretch your legs and back after each ride. Don't neglect the hamstrings! Now you're ready to increase the duration of your ride and maybe add a few hills. Hills are where it all happens! The farther you can get away from traffic and enjoy the outdoors, the better.

Many "learn to run" programs start in February and March. As spring goes on, there are more and more runs. Typically, you will walk for the majority of the time when you are just starting, and then running is introduced gradually. Of course you will start with appropriate stretching exercises. If you haven't run before, get some expert advice on footwear for your foot and body type. This will reduce the risk of injury.

Your spring prep time will pay off in the long run (pun intended!).

4. Summer: Ahhh, the beach

Do you know what I love about the summer? The beach! Going barefoot, wrestling the waves, watching people in the water—loads of fun.

When I go to the beach, I try to pay attention to the essentials. Be sure to pack lotion with a good sunblock and a hat and sunglasses so you will be comfortable and able to spend more time outdoors. Shoes or sandals help protect your feet when the sand gets too hot to walk on. A beach umbrella is always a good idea to provide some shade, and don't forget containers of water to stay hydrated.

Did you know?

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are caused by an imbalance between water and your electrolytes—sodium, potassium, and calcium. Heat exhaustion is when your body's perspiration is unable to keep up with heat stress. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. Symptoms are profuse sweating, pale or flushed skin, headache, dizziness, elevated body temperature, rapid pulse, and a feeling of weakness. If you have any of these symptoms, get to a cooler place, take off excess clothing, sponge the body with cooler water, and drink lots of water. Get medical help right away. Drinking extra water in the summer is the best way to stay hydrated and reduce the risk of heat stroke.


Beaches lend themselves to more than just lying around on a towel. Beach volleyball is a fun game that's very social. It's also a great workout mainly because of the amount of jumping, which requires a lot of energy. If you are at the seashore, try surfing. If you have never surfed before, sign up for a couple of lessons. You might also want to try snorkeling, scuba diving, wind-surfing, kayaking—endless choices.

Freshwater lakes are popular for canoeing, water-skiing, and wakeboarding, as well as a good refreshing swim.

Enjoy your summer activities early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the hottest time of the day. Wear loose-fitting clothing that is breathable, such as cotton. Choose light colors that won't absorb sunlight and—bonus—they won't attract as many bugs!

Take advantage of those long summer days to be sexy, smart, and strong!

DO THIS

Enjoy some season-specific exercise. Feel yourself in tune with the rhythm of nature as you allow your body to experience things that can only be experienced in the season you're in!

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