As the nights stretch longer, and the mercury dips lower, you may feel more inclined to bundle up with a cozy blanket and a warm bowl of soup than to hit the pavement for a nice long run.

The crisp autumn air, however, can be a welcome change to the hot, humid days of summer, and is no reason to stay indoors.

To help keep you active all season long, we’ve rounded up our top cool-weather fitness tips to help you stay both warm and safe while you’re out keeping fit.

Get the Blood Flowing

Cool temperatures can be a shock to your body, causing muscles to tighten and injury to ensue.

Taking five minutes to warm up your body properly before heading out the door helps to get the blood flowing, loosens muscles, and lubricates joints to properly prepare your body for the more strenuous workout that lies ahead.

Elevate your core temperature and start to increase your heart rate by doing a few rounds of mountain climbers, skipping rope, running on the spot, or sun salutations.

It’s also a good idea to add in a few dynamic stretches to increase flexibility.

Layer up

Yes, the air might feel cool as you head out the door, but once you get moving, you may feel anything but.

Dressing in layers helps you regulate your temperature as you get moving, helping to prevent your body from overheating.

Likewise, when you finish your activity and your heart rate drops back down, you may find yourself feeling chilly again and looking for an extra layer of warmth.

To get an idea of what to wear as your base layer, use the “running formula.” Simply add 10 to 20 degrees to the outside temperature. This helps paint a picture of what you will feel like once your heart rate is up and you’re working hard.

Be Seen

As we head towards the winter solstice, our days become shorter and shorter.

Whether you are heading out before or after work, chances are you’ll be faced with some dim conditions.

To stay safe when the sun goes down (or is yet to come up) choose routes that are well-lit, and always aim for brightly coloured clothing that has reflective material to catch passing headlights.

If you’re cycling, be sure to have flashing strobe lights (white for the front, and red for the back) to help others on the road see you.

Stay hydrated

 When the heat is on, we tend to be well aware of our hydration needs.

But when the brisk breeze wicks away your sweat as fast as you’re making it, hydration tends to become an afterthought.

With any activity, the goal for proper hydration is to avoid both dehydration and overhydration (aka hyponatremia).

This means being sure to replace both fluids and electrolytes.

For most athletes doing 1 hour or less of activity, this means drinking adequate water and consuming a diet rich in electrolyte-containing foods.

However, if you participate in endurance sports (> 1 hour) you may want to consider consuming an electrolyte/carbohydrate beverage mid-activity.

Warm up from the inside out

You may feel hot and sweaty, but after you’ve finished your workout, the combination of sweat and damp clothes can quickly leave you feeling chilly.

Ditch your sweaty workout gear as soon as you can and head into a warm shower.

Refuel your body with a healthy warming meal like this: