Get Outside While You Can
Fall is the absolute perfect season to take advantage of exercising outdoors: the weather is finally cool enough to exert yourself physically without amassing an unholy amount of sweat, but it’s not so cold that you need to wear a ridiculous number of layers. Brisk mornings just beg for a heady stroll, while the long afternoon shadows are perfect for taking a picturesque walk in the woods. The benefits of being outside when you exercise are many, so here are a few ideas for you to try this season.
As Capital Regioners, it’s almost a given that you would want to take advantage of this beautiful time of year to go for a hike. The mountains are covered with gorgeous fall foliage, making it tough to ignore the trails that beckon at every turn. One of the best things about hiking is that anyone can do it; you don’t need any specialized gear, or training, or even a partner (although that is advised for safety reasons.) You just need a sturdy pair of shoes and some comfortable clothes, and a basic understanding of how to read a map or follow a trail.
Hiking typically has more health benefits than your average gym session, and on average burns about 500 calories over the course of an hour. Hikes can vary widely in terms of difficulty levels, so we do recommend you do some preliminary research before you take off into the great outdoors. Albany Parks Guide and Discover Albany are excellent resources for discovering places to hike, and any State Park or nature preserve usually has informational websites as well.
Raking leaves is hardly anyone’s favorite chore, but it does count as exercising outdoors, for sure. Yard work is a great way to increase oxygen flow to the heart by raising your heart rate, and it’s been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress as well. And, as we all know from the achy muscles we suffer from the next day, yard work is a total body workout that incorporates all the key muscles we need to keep strong. The added bonus is that it also keeps your yard looking great, so you’re really killing two birds with one stone.
Many people think kayaking is a summer sport — and they’re not wrong — but only kayaking when it’s hot means missing out on an entire season of potential paddling around. Kayaking is a great stress-reducing activity that works your upper body and your core while also being low-impact. In the early fall the water is still fairly warm, and the air isn’t so cold that you’d freeze if you get splashed a bit. And if you choose calm waters, you can be pretty sure that you’ll only get wet if you’re a sloppy paddler.
Biking is another great way to get outside this time of year. Whether you prefer sticking to the road or hitting the trails, biking is a full-body cardiovascular exercise that strengthens your muscles while going easy on your joints. Regular cycling can also strengthen bones, decrease body fat, improve joint mobility, and decrease stress levels. It’s also a great way to see more scenery quicker, so if you’re a fall foliage enthusiast this is the way to go.
Outdoor Fitness Classes
Many gyms and private fitness instructors offer a variety of outdoor exercise classes, and this is the perfect time to sign up. From yoga to Zumba to BootCamp (a more rigorous weight lifting routine), you can find just about anything outside these days thanks to our newfound flexibility around this strategy. (thanks, Covid?) This is a great option for someone who might need a little more motivation to get moving or for people who prefer a more structured format.
Walking is just as good as any other form of exercise, even if it doesn’t sound as exciting. A walk outside will increase your heart rate, improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and it can also boost energy levels by causing your brain to release the feel-good hormones like endorphins. Especially if you haven’t always been particularly fitness-inclined, walking is a great way to start on a path to a healthier you.