Get Ready for Fall Fitness

1
Take Advantage of the Great Outdoors

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Getty Images/Pete Saloutos

The end of summer can be traumatic for those of us who think anything below 40 degrees qualifies as 'arctic.' Still, even I have to admit that there's something crisp and clean about cool fall mornings, free of stifling heat and humidity. This weather makes for 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.

Walking

Walking is one of the best ways to get in extra exercise throughout the day and, with cooler weather, you can often get away with it without sweating too much, something that may make it easier to fit it in 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 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.

Hiking

Fall is a great time to go hiking--Cool weather, no bugs and, of course, magnificent views. Plus, hiking burns mega-calories as you increase your elevation and really work those legs. If you can travel, try one of these Best Places to Hike to enjoy the fall foliage. If you're in the flatlands (like I am), you may need to be more creative. Look for small lakes, forest preserves or bike trails that allow you to get away from city life and enjoy the great outdoors.

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. If you're a beginner, start with Running for Beginners or head over to our Running site for information on how to get started.

2
Get Back to the Gym

Woman running on treadmill in gym
Cavan Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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. Don't just do the same machines each time you go, but take advantage of all your gym has to offer - Swimming, fitness classes, personal trainers, machines, weight loss programs, etc. The more variety you have, the easier it will be to stick to your program. Even if you gravitate to certain cardio machines, you can always change things up with interval training. Try some of these Cardio Machine Workout Ideas for something new and fresh.

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 fallout and add on as you get settled in. Here's a Sample Schedule to give you an idea of how to start:

Day 1: 20 minutes elliptical trainer, 20 minutes Total Body Strength and stretching
Day 2: 30-45 minutes Cardio Medley Workout
Day 3: 20 minutes elliptical training, 20 minutes Total Body Strength and stretching

These workouts are just suggestions. For more workout ideas, visit my Workout Center and choose workouts that fit your schedule, your fitness level and your goals. You can also visit my Beginner's Corner for more in-depth information on how to start an exercise program. You can also sign up for my free 12 Week Weight Loss Program for a more structured program to follow.

3
Get Fit at Home

Home fitness is another other option if you're not crazy about the gym and fall is a great time to get your home gym in working order. Remember, you don't need a lot of equipment to create a solid home gym. In fact, 'home gym' can mean anything from a set of resistance tubes to a full spread complete with home gym, cardio machines and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Use these resources to figure out what you need or to learn about workouts you can do with no equipment at all:

Another option is home workout videos. Even if you're not a fan of working out at home or working out to videos, it's a good idea to have a few good ones around so you always have that option. Collage Video is a video catalog offering hundreds of videos you can't find in stores or, if you want to try before you buy, check out what's available at your local library. Before you buy any video, be sure to visit Video Fitness to read through hundreds of reviews posted by real exercisers.

4
Try Something New

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Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

Summer often finds us being weekend warriors--going for long bike rides, playing sports and just generally getting out and being more active. When fall hits, many of us head to the gym or bring our workouts indoors and that can quickly lead to boredom and burnout. This is a great time of year to try something new.

Tai Chi

Also known as a moving meditation, Tai Chi is a slow, fluid activity that helps improve balance and strength while keeping you relaxed and connected to your body. Tai Chi is an excellent activity to do on a chilly fall night to help you stay active. Check at local clubs or gyms to find classes near you.

Yoga

Yoga is another kind of moving meditation that promotes balance, flexibility and soothing mind/body connections. Check out our Yoga site for daily poses and more.

Strength Training.

If you tend to stick with more cardio activities in the summer, why not shift your focus? This is a great time to focus more attention on building strength, bone density, balance and stability to keep your body ready for warm-weather activities. This is also a good time to explore new methods of strength training that you've never tried before.

Pilates.

Pilates is another great mind/body activity that can help you strengthen your core while promoting flexibility and balance. This can be a great addition to your workout routine if you want to work your abs in a whole new way.

Circuit Training. If the weather's bad, move your workout indoors and keep things interesting with circuit training. By moving quickly from one exercise to the next (cardio, strength training or a mix of both), you'll keep your heart rate up, burn more calories and your workouts will fly by. For ideas, check out these circuit training workouts.

5
Get Healthy with Fall Foods

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Getty Images/Nancy Rose

Just because summer's over doesn't mean you need to avoid the produce section. This is a great time of year to up the nutritional value of your meals while enjoying some of the great foods that are in season.

Pumpkin

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. You could run out and start making pumpkin pies or you could try for healthier ideas by checking out these Healthy Pumpkin Recipes.

Apples

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. Try one of these Healthy Apple Recipes.

Pecans

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. Learn more about how pecans can keep you healthy.

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