November! Can you believe it’s November already? And we’re back for Coach Tip Tuesday!
As autumn rolls along for those of us who reside in the Northern Hemisphere (and more specifically for those who live in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere), I’m here with a gentle reminder to seize the opportunity to get outside when you can. Even on “bad” weather days, seize the opportunity either to get out or when breaks in the bad weather arise.
For many of you reading this, outdoor workouts may become increasingly more challenging over the next month or so as cold weather conditions roll in, bringing things like ice and snow. This makes it all the more important to seize opportunities to get outside when it’s possible.
Yes, it’s possible to train indoors, and for some folks (for any number of reasons), that may be the only option. I totally respect that! But I really want to encourage all of you to get outside when you can because being outside is critical for our overall health - both mental and physical. We spend a majority of our time indoors; Americans spend 87% of their time indoors and another 6% of our time in our cars, which means that we only spend 7% of our time outdoors.
The number one reason people will opt to stay inside even more than the normal 93% of the time is weather, which is why I’m here this week with this plea to seize opportunities to get outside. The Japanese take being outside much more seriously than Americans do; they even have a term for it - “Shinrin-yoku” - which translates to “forest bathing.” According to Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Austin Perlmutter, who co-authored Brain Wash, being outside yields the following health benefits:
Boosted immune system function, with an increase in the count and activity of the body’s natural killer cells
Reduced blood pressure
Heighted coping abilities for stress and less stress in general
Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
Decreased inflammation, which keeps the prefrontal cortex in our brains healthy and engaged
Decreased depression symptoms (measured at 61%) for those experiencing depression as well as an overall lower risk of depression in those who are not currently experiencing depression
I’ve written about the weather a lot over the years, most recently talking about how it’s very productive to broaden your definition of “good” weather. In this fall season when weather is shifting from what many people would define as “good” weather to “bad” weather, I want to remind you that the changes in weather that are happening are often worse in our minds than they are in real life and that you will almost certainly feel the positive effects of being outside once you make the choice to go.
Sure, it might rain more in the fall or be a bit cooler than it was in the summer months. But this doesn’t mean that we need to fret about the weather. Think about it. When you allow thoughts about the weather and how the weather relates to your workouts to enter your mind, it can easily turn into a “circling the drain” mental situation where you start second guessing yourself and your ability to execute the workout in the weather condition that currently exists or how you will actually feel if you decide to take yourself outside into an adverse weather condition.
Of course, there will be weather conditions that you may feel uncomfortable training and racing in, no matter what. I encourage you to have an honest conversation with yourself about what those conditions are. As you know, if you would race in it, then I always advise that you apply that same standard to training. You shouldn’t be racing in conditions that you are unwilling to train in for MANY reasons, the biggest one being safety, as you don’t want to encounter a new condition on race day without the tools to properly manage it in your Athlete’s Toolbelt.
If a day comes along when weather conditions are not your favorite, I recommend that you embrace what the day is giving you or (if your schedule allows for it) that you seize the opportunity to get out if a break in the weather rolls along.
Seize the opportunity to be outside! Your whole self - your brain AND your body - will thank you. :)
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.