The end of summer can seem like a sad time of year, but there’s something about the cool, crisp air that can breathe some new life into your usual routine, especially when it comes to exercise.
Take Advantage of the Great Outdoors
Without the heat and humidity, outdoor workouts become much more comfortable and, after a busy summer, many of us are ready to get back to some sort of fitness routine. Fall weather, for many areas, offers some of the some of the best outdoor workouts all year long.
With kids back to school and holidays on the way, it may be a challenge to find time to exercise, especially when there’s not as much daylight. Challenge, however, is at the very heart of staying fit, particularly with the long days of winter to come.
Getting started now can help you generate enough momentum to make it through the coming seasons without gaining weight. Try these great fall workouts to keep you fit.
Walking is just about the easiest way to exercise outside and a great way to get in some extra movement throughout the day. With cooler weather, you don’t have to worry about sweating as much, so that may make it easier to be active all day long.
All you really need is a good pair of walking shoes and, perhaps, some fall weather gear to keep you warm, dry and protected. The key to making it enjoyable is to make it a daily thing:
- Make it a habit to walk every day when you get home from work or at night after dinner.
- Get up 10 minutes early and start your day with a brisk walk around the block. Use the time to think about what you want to accomplish and make your to-do list.
- Plan fall activities that involve walking: apple-picking, hunting for the perfect pumpkin or enjoying the beautiful colors with some colorful autumn walking.
- Get to work a few minutes early and take a few laps around the parking lot.
Fall is a great time to go hiking, with cool weather, no bugs and, of course, magnificent views. Plus, hiking burns mega-calories as you increase your elevation and really work those legs.
Just a few reasons to add hiking to your routine:
- It works multiple areas of fitness: Not only do you strengthen your muscles by climbing, you increase your cardio endurance as well. Walking or hiking up an incline gets your heart rate up, helping you burn calories and get fit.
- It works multiple muscles: Hiking up and down even small inclines involves the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, core and the feet.
- It gets you outside: If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time inside working. Hiking lets you get back to nature, clear your head and remember there’s a world outside.
- Hiking is great fall exercise: Not only is fall perfect for hiking, if you do it at the right time you can see amazing colors as the leaves change.
If you’re in a flat area, look for small lakes, forest preserves or bike trails that allow you to get away from city life and enjoy the great outdoors. You can also check out The 10 Best Fall Hiking Trails.
Rounding out the top outdoor fall activities is running.
Fall is probably the best time of year for running outdoors. It’s not too hot, not too cold and watching the leaves change colors each time you head outside can make each workout a new adventure.
The real key to making fall running more comfortable is to dress in layers so you don’t get too hot or too cold. Next? Making sure people can see you if you’re running in the dark by wearing reflective running gear.
Get Back to the Gym
When the weather turns iffy, getting to the gym can help you stay on track with your workouts, especially if you get involved in a variety of activities.
To make the most out of your time at the gym, don’t just do the same machines each time you go, but take advantage of all your gym has to offer:
- Swimming: Swimming is such a great no impact activity and perfect for a complete, whole body workout.
- Fitness classes: There’s an energy you gather from other people when you workout in a class setting that you often don’t get working out by yourself.
- Hire a personal trainer: Fall is the perfect time to hire a pro and get your workouts on the right track from day one.
- Work out with a buddy: If you feel intimidated or don’t like working out by yourself, bribe a friend into working out with you. Knowing you have to show up will keep you motivated.
- Keep it interesting: If you tend to gravitate to certain cardio machines, you can always change things up with interval training, which is a great way to burn calories and get in shape. You can even try more variety by mixing and matching different cardio machines, like in this cardio medley workout.
Making Your Exercise Habit Stick
Making fitness stick is all about momentum (among other things), so if you’re a beginner, start with about 3 days of exercise a week.
Do more if you can, but always start where you are rather than where you want to be. Ease your body and your mind into your new exercise schedule to minimize the risk of injury and add on as you get settled in.
Get Healthy with Fall Foods
Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean you need to avoid the produce section. In fact, fall brings a number of great choices to up the nutritional value of your meals while enjoying some of the great foods that are in season.
Pumpkins make great jack-o-lanterns and they’re also great for nutritious and yummy meals. Pumpkin provides carotenoids (which help fight heart disease and cancer), vitamins C, E and riboflavin, iron, fiber, and potassium, just to name a few.Healthy, Creamy, Spicy Pumpkin Soup
This time of year, apples are at their best and, because they’re so versatile, you can find many ways to work them into your diet. Apples are low in calories, high in fiber, have no cholesterol and give your body important nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, calcium and folic acid. You can eat them alone or add them to any number of dishes for extra taste and nutrition.Cran-Apple Carrot Muffins
You probably know that nuts are good for you (as long as you practice some portion control) and pecans are at the top of the list when it comes to healthy nuts. Pecans offer zinc, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B6, just to name a few, and they’re great sprinkled on salads or eaten alone as a snack.