One of the joys of fall is walking, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors among the beautiful fall foliage. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website, fall color peaks progressively later the farther south you go in Iowa. In general, the northern third of the state typically peaks the last week of September through the second week of October. The central third has peak foliage color the first through third weeks of October, and the southern third of the state peaks in color the second through fourth weeks in October.
For specific 2018 information on Iowa fall colors, call the Iowa Fall Statewide Conditions (515-233-4110) or access the Weekly Fall Color Report from the Iowa DNR.
Fall is upon us. Out with the humid scorchers and in with the crisp fall air. Fall is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the weather with some fun seasonal activities. Being active increases your ability to prevent simple infections, just in time for cold and flu season! As you enjoy fall and prepare for winter, give these seasonal fitness activities a try.
• Plan a backyard holiday football game.
• Sign up for a 5k walk or run.
• Grab a friend or family member and go for a brisk walk.
Don’t like the cold? Explore some inside activity options like a spin (cycling) class or a new aerobics class at your local fitness center.
For more information, visit Healthy for Good.
The American Heart Association says that a 30-minute walk a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type-2 diabetes.
The following tips can help you start walking with maximum safety and the most success.
- Talk to your doctor. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.
- Wear appropriate attire. This includes supportive shoes, good socks, breathable active wear, and a hat or cap to shield you from the sun or keep your head warm.
- Remember to stretch. Avoid sore muscles and injury by stretching before and after you walk.
- Start slow. Progressively increase the intensity and length of your walking regimen over time.
- Plan a route. Use www.mapmywalk.com or another similar website to plan a walking route. There are also many free online walking videos that can be used indoors with no equipment other than shoes such as START! Walking at Home American Heart Association 3 Mile Walk (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYuw4f1c4xs).
Sources: American Heart Association, “Why Walking?” www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp; eXtension Network, www.extension.org
Studies show that individuals are more physically active if the environment provides them with opportunities to do so. Examine your neighborhood, workplace, or school to identify ways to make your surroundings more inviting for walking or exercise. Here are four ideas to consider:
- Start a walking group in your neighborhood or at your workplace.
- Make the streets safe for exercise by driving the speed limit and yielding to people who walk, run, or bike.
- Participate in local planning efforts to develop a walking or bike path in your community.
- Share your ideas for improvement with your neighbors or local leaders.
Source: Opportunities Abound for Moving Around, May 2015, newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/May2015/Feature1
Fitting activity into a daily routine can be as easy as walking the dog after work or adding a 10-minute walk at lunchtime. Choose activities you enjoy and mix it up.
- Join a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall.
- Get the whole family involved—enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your kids, grandkids, or great-grandkids.
- Push the baby in a stroller.
- Clean the house or wash the car.
- Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.
- Mow the lawn with a push mower.
- Plant and care for a vegetable or flower garden.
- Walk, jog, skate, or cycle.
- Swim or do water aerobics.
- Take a nature walk.
- Most important—have fun while being active!
Walking is a great way to meet the 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. But going for a walk in cold and snowy weather brings special challenges. Ensure a safe outdoor walk with these tips:
- Be aware of the wind chill factor before starting your walk. When it’s windy, think about whether you want to walk into the wind when you are returning and warmed up from exercise or when you begin and are warm from your home.
- Select a route with no snow or ice when possible.
- Dress warmly in several layers of loosefitting, tightly woven clothing. Wear a waterproof coat, hat, gloves, a scarf, or knit mask to cover your face, and waterproof boots. Be careful you aren’t so bundled up that you can’t hear or see what is going on around you!
- Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher before going outdoors and reapply as needed. Protecting your skin from the sun is important in the winter even if the air and wind are brutally cold.
- Share your planned route with family or friends in case of an emergency and carry a cell phone, if you have one.
- Take a break when you begin to feel fatigue. Watch for signs of cold weather health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite.
- Walk with a friend! It will help keep you motivated.