Harvest a New Fitness Habit This Fall

Who says New Year’s is the best and only time to turn over a new leaf and change something major about your life for the better? Not only is there no time like the present to get started in a positive new fitness direction if you’re so inclined, but there’s a lot about fall that makes it the ideal time to cultivate better, healthier habits in general.

  • Summer may have been all about taking it easy and living in the moment, but fall finds most people returning to a more structured way of life. Children go back to school and adults return to their normal work schedules. Those are the perfect circumstances under which to make other changes you know are good for you.

  • No more summer means an end to hot, sweltering temperatures that can make exercising outdoors with any regularity almost impossible. Milder weather combined with inviting fall foliage can be a great incentive to get up, get out, and get moving more often.

  • With the holiday season right around the corner, it pays to cultivate healthy habits now. You’re that much more likely to stick with them through the fall holidays that are notorious times for overindulgence.

In other words, if you want to change something about the way you live for the better right now, go for it. The following are just a few excellent ideas to consider. Feel free to add your own to the list.

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Get up and go outside.

woman-doing-stepup-urban-workoutWhile there’s definitely a lot to be said for making the most of your gym membership at any time of the year, the benefits of exercising outdoors shouldn’t be overlooked. Your stride is different when you run or exercise outdoors as opposed to indoors. Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments also benefit from less predictable terrain and variables such as wind drag. Plus, being outdoors with sunshine on your skin and fresh air in your lungs is excellent therapy for the soul.

Fall is arguably the perfect time to add more outdoor activity to your existing fitness routine, thanks to inviting temperatures and picturesque surroundings. Make good on that promise to yourself to enjoy an evening walk every night before dinner. Sign up for that tai chi class in the park your coworkers have been recommending. Take up a new pastime like hiking or golf that allows you to spend plenty of time appreciating Mother Nature while being active. Anything goes!

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Update your workout wardrobe.

Whether you’re starting a brand new fitness routine or simply looking to add another dimension to your existing one, workout clothing might not seem like a major priority, but it absolutely should be. To begin with, your choice in workout wear can really affect your ability to get the most out of your activity of choice. Running shoes really are engineered specifically for the needs of runners just like lifting shoes are designed for the weight room.

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There are also psychological benefits to consider. Choosing to wear the correct clothing instead of simply throwing on your favorite pair of sweats and an old t-shirt helps build your confidence and increases your chances of reaching your goals. People who dress for fitness are more likely to stick with good habits and behave like people who work out well into the future. Plus, the right clothing can help boost comfort by increasing your range of motion, wicking sweat away from your skin, and helping you avoid post-workout discomfort.

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Make safety a higher priority.

Making sure you’re adequately equipped to get the most out of your workouts doesn’t stop at making sure you’re wearing the right cross trainers or buying enough track suits to get you through the fall. It’s just as important to make sure you’re paying enough attention to safety, so don’t forget to take a trip down the recovery and injury prevention aisle while you’re shopping for new gear.

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Ensure your joints and back have the support they need with items like weightlifting belts, knee braces, wrist supports, and so forth. You’ll also want to stock up on items that help you recover smoothly from your workouts or tend to injuries properly if you do sustain them. Think skin care items, foam rollers, and hot/cold therapy accessories. The last thing you want putting a crimp in your plans to be healthier this fall is an injury that puts you on the bench for the season before you’ve really gotten started!

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Sign up for a new class.

Sometimes a little extra motivation is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to helping a new fitness habit stick, and nothing motivates quite like working out in the company of others. Whether or not you already have a go-to workout buddy to hit the gym with on leg day, there are plenty of reasons to consider finally signing up for that new fitness class you’ve been meaning to try.

  • When you’re new to a given activity, the process of figuring out how everything should work all by yourself can be daunting. Exercise classes bring an important sense of structure to the table and let you benefit from the expertise of a certified instructor.

  • Exercise classes are incredible ways to meet like-minded people who are interested in making the same positive changes you are. They are perfect for those who have just moved to a new place or who wish they knew more health-conscious people!

  • Working toward a common goal in the company of others is also a lot more fun than trying to go it alone. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to forget they’re doing something good for themselves altogether.

These days, your class options go well beyond the basics, so there’s sure to be something out there that’s just right for you. Try Zumba or spinning if you’re looking for something fast-paced. Kickboxing is great for people who want to improve their coordination and reflexes, while yoga is perfect for those who want to explore something that’s as relaxing and centering as it is healthy. Choose something that speaks to you, and it will be all the easier to turn it into a lasting habit.

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Start building a new home gym.

Starting a fantastic new fitness habit is one thing. Successfully sustaining it over the long term is another. For instance, the weather may be perfectly temperate right now, but winter will be here before you know it. You’ll need indoor alternatives to turn to when cold or inclement weather demands that you work out inside. Also, while you may have lots of free time to spend at the gym right now, that may not be the case if things get hectic at work or if your social calendar fills up over the holidays.

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Building a home gym that has everything you need for a well-rounded regime is one of the best ways to keep a solid fitness habit going no matter what. Plus, it’s a great solution if you have an empty garage or that spare room you’re not really using. What equipment you include is up to you, but definitely give some consideration to the following items:

  • Dumbbells: The sheer range and number of different exercises you can do with dumbbell pairs is almost limitless, so a solid set is one of the wisest options you could add to a home gym. Aim for 3-5 different options that cover a range of weights to maximize benefits as well as give you plenty of room to grow with your routine.

  • Kettlebells: Although kettlebells and dumbbells are interchangeable when it comes to many beneficial strength training exercises, you might want to consider keeping both on hand. Some moves you can really only do with a kettlebell, while others become a lot more challenging when you choose a kettlebell over a dumbbell.

  • Jump Rope: Don’t make the mistake of assuming that jump ropes are just for kids. Jumping rope is much harder and more challenging than it looks, so it’s an effective, inexpensive way to up your cardio game. Jump ropes are also travel-friendly, good for building coordination, and fun.

  • Medicine Ball: When it comes to items that can add a wealth of value to your exercise routine, you can’t beat a medicine ball. You can throw it, catch it, or carry it. You can incorporate it into your ab-building routine. It’s a fantastic addition to any plyometric routine as well.

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Embrace seasonal fall produce.

Mother Nature doesn’t just bring us cooler temperatures and beautifully colored leaves to appreciate in the fall. There’s a bountiful collection of delicious seasonal produce to consider this time of year as well. Plan a trip to the farmer’s market and fortify your diet with picks like the following:

  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are positively packed with essential nutrients such as potassium, folate, vitamin C, and fiber. Try slicing them, drizzling them with olive oil, and baking them in the oven or enjoying them whole in lieu of standard potatoes.

  • Apples: Nothing screams autumn quite like a crisp, juicy apple. Apples are packed with fiber, as well as healthy antioxidants. Enjoy them whole with the skins on or oven-bake them for a wonderful after-dinner treat your whole family will love.

  • Grapefruit: This fall, skip the grapefruit juice and enjoy the entire fruit instead. Grapefruits are packed with nourishing vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber. They’re also very rich in lycopene, a beneficial antioxidant.

  • Butternut Squash: Squash is another veggie that can’t help but put you in the mood for fall. Not only are butternut rich in beta carotene and lutein, but it’s incredibly versatile as well. Puree them for the basis of a wonderful soup to enjoy or oven-bake them for a wonderful addition to both savory and sweet dishes.

  • Brussels Sprouts: These tender and flavorful little powerhouses are members of the cabbage family. Not only are they perfect additions to any fall menu, but they’re very high in antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. They’re especially delicious roasted in the oven.

  • Parsnips: If you like root vegetables like carrots or turnips, you’ll be sure to fall in love with parsnips as well. They’re rich in fiber and essential nutrients like potassium, folate, vitamin B, and vitamin C. They also possess a unique nutty flavor that makes them a wonderful addition to seasonal soups and stews.

It’s also worth noting that the above are just a few of the amazing fruits and vegetables fall brings to the table. Definitely feel free to explore the produce department more thoroughly and experiment with others that strike your fancy!

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Invest in a new bike.

When it comes to appreciating the outdoors during the fall, there’s nothing quite like a bike ride. Cycling isn’t just fun, either. It’s also an amazing way to stay fit and reduce your risk of developing conditions like cancer, heart disease, mental illness, and arthritis. Plus, it’s low-impact and appropriate for people of all ages, making it a wonderful way for families to get fit together.

exercising-outside-on-bikeIf it’s been a while since your last bike ride, jump-start your renewed interest by investing in something new and high in quality. Consider the terrain over which you’re most likely to be riding your bike when making your choice. Standard bikes will be fine for occasionally riding to work, around your neighborhood, or downtown to visit the shops. However, alternative picks like mountain bikes are better fits for off-road use. Bikes can also easily be equipped with additional equipment like baskets, saddlebags, or even baby seats in order to accommodate your needs.

As you can see, fall brings with it a wealth of opportunities to add value and variety to your fitness routine, and these suggestions are just a jumping-off point to get you started. Anything goes that gets you up, out, and excited about getting healthier! Explore the possibilities today.