Falling into Exercise

Falling leaves and crisp cool mornings are around the corner as the Texas Summer heat comes to an end. Whether one exercises before the sunrise or during the day, summer workouts are always humid and hot. As the weather begins to cool, there are changes the body will make and it’s essential to prepare for those changes as we transition into fall.

In the hot summer months, the humidity plays a big factor in daily exercise routines. The body reacts to humidity through sweat which helps cool the core body temperature. However, when the temperature is colder, the body immediately springs into action because the blood that normally flows to the surface of the skin redirects to the vital organs, which essentially causes cold hands and feet. Unfortunately, the hands and feet are not the only part of the body that are affected by the cold weather. Skin is also more sensitive and easily irritated. When the blood flow diverts from the body’s surface, then the blood vessels dilate and burst causing redness in the cheeks. Therefore, it’s important to consider wearing gloves, socks, and appropriate attire to keep your extremities warm when exercising in cold weather.

Cool temperatures can affect the body in different ways. For example, the feeling of burning lungs. The freezing air will not hurt the lungs, but it may feel more difficult to catch a breath. The best way to help prevent this feeling is to wear a scarf, face mask, or any protective clothing over the mouth to help keep the air circulation in and out of the body warmer. Another example of cool temperatures affecting the body is tighter muscles. The body may struggle with general aches and pains because the blood flow isn’t getting to the tendons and muscles like it normally would in warm temperatures. The more flexible the body is the less chance there is to pull a muscle. It is important to establish a proper warm-up to help the body endure a better workout. If one does not warm-up properly or wear the appropriate attire, then it will lead to shivering and numbness.

The cooler the body gets, the more a person will shiver in order to produce heat. In order to create more energy to help warm up the body, one can clap, jump around, or stomp. The main point is to move around to help decrease the shivering. If a person experiences numbness during a workout they need to stop, go inside, and warm the area feeling numb. Ignoring numbness and not taking care of the affected area can lead to hypothermia or frostbite (while not likely in Texas, it’s still possible). These conditions can be avoided by paying attention to the warning signs and taking the proper precautions and actions. Lastly, the cool temperatures can cause the body to feel fatigue. Cooler weather is paired with less daylight and higher levels of melatonin, which can make one feel tired, sluggish, and less motivated.

To help get through the cold months and continue a productive exercise routine make sure to get plenty of rest, have someone or a workout partner help motivate and encourage you, and find a time of the day that works best for your schedule.