5 Fun Fall Fitness Ideas

By: Erica Hirsch, MPH, CPT

Detroit Medical Center Fitness Program Coordinator

As the season changes, so can you. Below are some fun ways to add physical activity into your daily routine—because we weren’t put on the planet to only work and watch TV—we are here to enjoy the world, our bodies, our families and friends, and breathe in some real air. Leave the office behind and try doing one of the below, or all five this fall. ENJOY!

1.     Back to School Isn’t Just for the Kids

Fall doesn’t have to be a time when only the kids and college students go back to school to learn something new—you can too. Have you ever wanted to learn belly dancing or try a TRX class? Now is the time. Better yet, when your body is unaccustomed to an activity, you burn more calories. Look around for local gyms and recreation centers that may offer some classes. Some other ideas include: Zumba, yoga, kickboxing, cycling, tennis, racquetball, and boot camp.

2.     Enjoy the Weather 

The cooler temperatures and less humidity make the perfect storm for brisk walking, jogging, running, or cycling. Look around your area for parks that have paved paths to avoid traffic and take a friend. Be sure to prepare for the darkness. Wear a reflective vest or carry a flashlight in the event you are by roads. If you decide to cycle, make sure to attach a light or helmet to your bike. As the fall slowly turns into the winter, be sure to dress in layers. Try to keep the layer closest to your body a moisture wicking material like “Dri-Fit”. If you’re exercising in the afternoon, don’t forget your sunglasses. The fall sun can be blinding at times.

3.     Family Activities

If you’re looking for something to do with the family, local farmers often times offer corn mazes that are fun for you and the kids, or you and your significant other. Challenge your friends or family to a corn maze race; time each other and see who can get through the maze the quickest. Some other fun fall outdoor ideas include paintballing and archery. Closer to Halloween, try pumpkin picking. Ask the workers if you can walk back to the patch rather than hitching a ride on the tractor or hay wagon. If you really want to challenge yourself, grab a 5 – 10 pound pumpkin and use it as a dumbbell when you get home. Pumpkin squats* are great to strengthen the legs. If you want to incorporate healthy food and activity, look for an apple orchard in your area. After walking around and picking apples, try your best to avoid the donuts at the shop, and focus on going home to have a fresh picked apple as a snack; they’re great with peanut butter.

* Pumpkin Squat: Take a wide stance directly over your pumpkin, keep your stomach in tight, chin up, and shoulders back. Bend your knees and lower straight down picking up your pumpkin. Once it is in your hands, straighten your knees to standing and then bend your knees back down to 90 degrees never putting your pumpkin down.  Do this for 12–15 repetitions and repeat 3 times.

4.     Become an Active TV Watcher

Many of us get antsy for the fall premiers of our favorite TV shoes. If you are planning to park your behind on the couch for a couple hours several nights a week, you should become an active TV watcher. Do some body weight exercises during commercials. To warm up you can start with marching or jogging in place. Plan on doing things that don’t take up much space like lunges, squats, push-ups (modified push-ups on your knees), and crunches or sit-ups. For higher intense cardio you can add in some jumping jacks, burpies, mountain climbers, or high knees. If anything at all, do some stretching. One of the main causes of low back pain is tight hamstrings—to stretch them, sit on the floor both legs straight out in front of you and try to touch your toes without bending your knees. Try to hold each of your stretches for 20–30 seconds, reach until slight discomfort, always taking deep breaths.

5.     Exercise and Work—It Can Happen

The next time you have a meeting with a co-worker or supervisor, ask them if they want to have a traveling meeting. Find a route around the building you are in, or better yet, walk outside your building. You may find yourself more awake and alert and coming up with better ideas and solutions to problems during the ‘traveling’ meeting. As you walk, you increase your circulation and blood flow. Increased blood flow carries more oxygen and nutrients to your brain and cells making you feel more energized and focused.

There are many things you can do to increase your physical activity levels. If anything, remember you will never regret a workout. Below are some keys to review:

The Key is FIVE – The American Heart Association recommends the average person to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days per week.

The Key is FUN – If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to do it. Make sure the physical activity you choose to incorporate into your life is something you can imagine yourself doing over time – down the road – not just during a diet and weight loss kick. If you hate running, do not make yourself a program to run on the treadmill.

The Key is FITNESS – Research has shown that it is healthier to be slightly overweight but physically active than to be at a healthy weight and underactive. Being physically active stimulates your heart and makes it strong; it decreases stress, activates muscles and likewise stretches them, and allows the body to excrete excess waste, ‘toxins’ through sweat.

They Key is NOW – Why now? There is no better time than now. The average person gains about 5 – 10 pounds over the holiday season, so it is the perfect time to start adding more physical activity into your routine to help ward off those possible extra pounds. 

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