why walk… right now, in the fall?

Walking is a great activity to do in any season. The challenge we face in Chicagoland –  we always seem to get our seasons in the extreme.

If you are prepared for the weather, you can still enjoy getting outdoors for some fresh air on a daily basis. The key to walking outdoors, year round, involves acclimation.

Getting yourself accustomed to environmental changes, like falling temperatures, wind, sleet or snow etc., helps you adapt on a gradual basis. Layering clothes, keeping gloves and a headband or a hat in your pocket, donning a scarf, and increasing the thickness of your socks are just some of the ways to acclimate to seasonal changes and falling temperatures.

Remember to invest in a good waterproof shell with a hood. If you get wet, you will be cold and miserable. A good outer shell not only prevents moisture from getting in, but also traps body heat, which keeps you warm in the chilliest weather. This is a good time to start adjusting outer wear, before the super chill temperatures and north wind begin to arrive.

The same goes for shoes. Last year, I invested in my first pair of running shoes with a gore-tex membrane. I will never go back. These shoes kept my feet warm and dry throughout all of last winter’s walks. The same concept holds for feet – if they get wet, they get cold and you are miserable. One added benefit of waterproof shoes is that they trap and hold heat. I like this because my feet stay warmer in the below zero temps.

Don’t forget sunblock and a visor or hat if you are out during the day. Sun protection is just as necessary in fall, winter and spring.

Let go of the old wives’ tail…”cold weather makes you get sick.” Believe it or not, this is the number one health myth according to Healthline.com!

Taking a daily walk is a tremendous way to keep your immune system sharp. Keep in mind, walking beats sitting when it comes to increasing the amount of natural killer cells in the blood. As cold and flu season approaches, these cells target viruses, bacteria, infected cells, tumor growth and other pathogens trying to invade our systems. Walking keeps us well.

Fresh outdoor air can also be a natural  energizer in the form of oxygen from plants and trees. What better way to get a dose of stress busting oxygen to the brain and body than an outdoor walk.

Moral of the story:  Rise up to the challenge of extreme weather with extreme outerwear!

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