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Does a sporty autumn mean an Indian summer or rain and sniffles? Neither? Here's a rundown of tired clichés:
You've been active all summer and taken advantage of the start of the school year to discover some new sports… but is that it?
Not keen on getting cold or injured, or changing your equipment… If, once autumn arrives, you are one of those people whose desire to do sport disappears as fast as the light, we have thought especially of you.
There are some real changes you will need to adapt to, but also the apathy and lack of motivation that autumn can bring. Let us run through all those autumnal clichés, but also give you some tips to get running through those raindrops.
Let's start by answering a few questions which you may have asked yourself and, above all, address some of the old clichés:
For many people, autumn is synonymous with satisfaction and fulfilment. This is the view of Justine, editor-in-chief at DECATHLON and a big fan of the season:
“Autumn is a magnificent season! The colours and the light are superb. It makes you want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.”
That's all well and good, but isn't autumn rather depressing? If, like me, you miss those impromptu matches outside during the summer, perhaps you might be tempted to stay indoors for the next six months and wait for the clocks to change (i.e. March) before getting your boots on again.
But the thing is that physical activity is an excellent way of enjoying the fresh air, getting active and enjoying a bit of daylight as the days grow shorter. What is more, your body gives off more endorphins when exercise gets harder. In a nutshell, physical activity can really help boost morale as the nights grow longer.
It's fairly well known today that regular exercise reduces the risk of developing many diseases – heart problems, obesity, diabetes and more.
But what about its effects on your mental health?
While physical activity is no miracle cure, when done along with proper medical and psychological care, it can have an effect on many symptoms of depression.
Any sport can help.
If sport for you is an indoors activity and you really have no desire to stay outside for longer than necessary when the weather gets wet, autumn can be a chance to do some sport while keeping warm and dry.
Sport clubs, weight rooms or fitness centres, indoor team sports, swimming (although here you are probably more likely to be warm than dry)... There is a whole host of possibilities available while keeping well away from any bad weather. Here, the challenge is to get motivated and reach your goal!
Even Justine is not entirely innocent, since her favourite sport is swimming! Clearly, staying warm behind the steamed up windows of a swimming pool, with the relaxing effort of gliding through the water, can easily persuade you to wait for the sun to return before venturing back outside.
What about motivation? It is easy to believe that bad weather can dampen any desire to keep fit. And if we put it like that, it seems a logical argument. So let's consider the problem from the opposite perspective:
In general, discovering a new sport involves a high level of curiosity, energy and euphoria. So if you don't want to give up exercising this autumn, why not take up a new sport and benefit from all this motivation?
And if you love your sport and a simple grey sky won't have you swapping your mountain bike for a skipping rope, the key thing is to set yourself some goals. Autumn and winter are often periods of fundamental work when it comes to sport: we work on endurance to boost our cardiovascular capacity and improve our preparation for better performance in the spring. So, keeping in mind your future springtime performance in the sunshine can be very beneficial.
Here are a few questions or concerns that can finally be resolved… precisely through sport. In order to go further and ensure that sport remains a source of pleasure even when the weather seems more of a punishment, here are a few good habits to adopt so you can enjoy sport even if you have no intention of enjoying autumn.
Although sport involves a whole host of benefits for your body, shorter days and wet weather will quickly take you away from your peak form. So how can you manage this switch to winter time? We decided to ask Virgile, project manager at DECATHLON and a runner:
“Autumn is the hardest time. The weather is not as dry. You will need to change your kit, because it's no longer as practical to run in a T-shirt and shorts. In the end, it is easier to overcome the cold of winter than the wet weather in autumn. And it is often a time when you can feel a bit down, when you catch a cold. The people around you are also less motivated and it can be hard to generate synergy.”
This seems a lot of barriers to overcome. But could these apprehensions when it comes to sport simply be due to a classic lack of motivation because of the change in season rather than genuine obstacles to sport?
“Lastly, the conditions are actually more favourable than in summer: it is not as hot, so you get less dehydrated. But of course you are going to need more equipment. You will need to take a waterproof jacket and wear something that covers the arms. And there is mbound to be ore space in the gym; pitches and playgrounds are less packed.”
So let's start with the equipment: if sport is something you practise outdoors, the weather conditions will require a little adaptation. On the agenda: wear a long outfit to cover your arms and legs and add a windproof or waterproof jacket as a second layer.
And if the shorter days are not enough to take you off the roads, we recommend that you wear clothing that ensures you can be seen: ideally, a head torch and rear light.
Finally, if you prefer grass to tarmac, consider adapting your soles, spikes and studs to a greasier and heavier surface.
Obviously when it comes to health, sport in autumn will lead you to ask yourself certain questions: is finishing your session both dripping in sweat and soaked by the rain really beneficial?
Well, firstly, if you have remembered your second layer, it is your waterproof jacket which will end up wet, not you. Secondly, physical activity helps improve your health and immune system, even in cold or wet weather. You just need to adopt a few good habits: breathe through the nose, which is less harsh for the bronchial tubes, and get changed as soon as your session is over so you don't catch cold in your wet clothes (due to sweat, rather than rain).
However, we do recommend that you wait until you are somewhere warm and dry before getting changed.
We have already dispelled some of the old clichés about sport in autumn. But there is another aspect that you need to bear in mind: warming up and stretching are even more important in cold weather.
The risks of physical problems depend on your preparation and good habits as much as the temperature. In cold weather, warming up properly is even more vital. Obviously, the trick is to prepare and recover indoors and only head out for your session.
OK, the last chance. All these arguments have failed to convince you to head out - not even to the gym.
Firstly, we can't really blame you. Secondly, you can still do sport at home: weights, yoga mat, gym ball, resistance bands, skipping rope, pull-up bar: take your pick!
In this case, we look forward to seeing you again and we will be back to give you some tips for a sporty spring!
Do you find autumn a chance to try new sports or is it rather a time when simply staying motivated is a sport in itself?
Share your experiences and tips to keep going!