How many New Year’s Eves have you spent vowing to get more fit in the coming year? And how many times have you failed to follow through? The good news is that fall may be an even better time to start a fitness program, because you can create good habits for the holiday season and the upcoming winter months.
According to Chris Freytag, a fitness instructor and fitness expert with Prevention magazine, “With the change of seasons comes a renewed time to rethink and restart,” she says. “‘What’s so special about January?” Besides, for those moms who have school-aged kids, think of September as the New Year. Here are 10 ways to start making the most of the season. And who knows? This year, you might be in great shape before that New Year’s Eve party rolls around.
- Take advantage of the weather. Fall can be a treat for the senses: the crisp air, apple picking, pumpkin carving, a gorgeous canopy of fall foliage, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. These months are a great time to exercise outdoors and enjoy cooler temperatures. Discover park trails and take in some new scenery, whether you’re walking, biking, or in-line skating. In places where snow falls early, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. And remember, it doesn’t have to seem like exercise to be a great workout.
- Think outside the box. Always wanted to learn to tap dance? Attempt to box? Master the jump rope? Ask any schoolchild: Fall is a great time to learn something new. Many classes at gyms and elsewhere get started in the fall, so look around and see if something intrigues you. And with the kids in school, parents have more time to check out those classes.
- Be an active TV watcher. Many people get geared up for fall premieres of their favorite television shows. If you’re going to sit down and watch hours of TV, then make a date with exercise and TV. While you watch, you can walk or run in place, do standing lunges, do tricep dips off the couch, or lift weights. During commercials, do push-ups or sit-ups. In a one-hour show, you probably have close to 20 minutes worth of commercial interruption.
- Integrate exercise into your life. If you’re spending the afternoon taking kids to soccer practice, instead of reading a book or visiting with another parent, try walking around the outside of the field while they practice. Or try “walking meetings,” where you go for a walk, brainstorm, and figure out who’s going to take what responsibilities.
- Rejuvenate yourself. Fall is the time to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Get a massage after your run. Learn to meditate. Take an art class. Treat yourself not just with exercise but other activities that promote wellness, so you can feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Remember the 30-day rule. It takes about four weeks for the body to adapt to lifestyle changes. That’s why people who give up on their fitness programs tend to do so within the first 30 days. So, when the alarm goes off in the morning and it’s darker and colder, don’t roll over and hit the snooze button. Try to stick with a program for a month.
- Strive for the 3 Cs. First, exercise takes commitment. You have to start planning exercise, just like you do everything else. Put in on the calendar, because later always turns into never. Convenience means choosing a gym that’s close by, or an activity you can do at home, or a time when you’re not likely to be interrupted. Finally, be consistent. It would be better to work out 10 minutes a day rather than one hour every month.
- Deal with darkness. The best way to enjoy fall is to exercise outdoors. But it is getting darker earlier, and staying dark later in the morning, so be smart and safe. If walking or running outdoors wear a reflective vest and carry a flashlight. When cycling, affix a light to your helmet or bike. If possible, use trails or a local school track to avoid vehicle traffic.
- Dress in layers. When exercising outside, layer your clothing. Before your body warms up, you may feel chilled, but once the blood gets pumping, you’ll feel overdressed. These days, there’s no lack of great weather gear including DriFit material. This fabric wicks moisture away from your skin so you’re not exercising with wet fabric hanging on you.
- Find your motivation. It’s important to first discover what your individual goals are, whether it’s losing weight, strengthening and toning, or preparing for a race or event. But goals aren’t enough to get you there; you have to be motivated by the day-to-day workouts, so choose something you’ll enjoy doing and will be likely to keep up. Creating a challenge for yourself is a great way to motivate yourself.
Remember that anything worth having takes work. Get a head start with your fitness goals and work toward a healthier you, regardless of the time of year.
Information from WebMD Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD