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Fall Into These Perfect Autumn Exercises

fitness woman using kettlebells ...
fitness woman using kettlebells ...

I am not sure how this is possible, but it is officially fall and this is my sixth "favourite things" themed blog. Time seriously just disappears! If you haven't read any of the past blogs in this series, don't worry. You can still enjoy this installment; each blog stands pretty much on its own. The point of the series is simply for me to share my current yummy recipes, "fun" workouts, and/or health mantras.

As a trainer I am constantly learning new fun health information to help keep my clients and myself on track. What is the point of all this knowledge if I don't also share it with all of my readers? I compiled my first list in February. I had such fun that I decided to write a "favourite things" blog regularly. Enjoy!

1. Favourite way to fit movement into your daily life: The "piggyback method"

Basically, the piggyback method requires that you live by the Kathleenism that daily activity is "non-negotiable." The question you ask yourself is not IF you will work out but WHEN will you work out. On days when you can't fit in your regular workout, don't let that be an excuse to fall completely off of the fitness horse. Instead, use the "piggyback" strategy. Pinpoint daily, non-negotiable habits that you already do, then turn them into a workout.

For example, turn you daily dog walk into a workout by using fartlek intervals. Fartlek (meaning "speed play") intervals are challenging but unstructured, so you get a great interval workout without constantly looking at your watch. Warm up for five minutes. Then pick a random landmark -- such as a stop sign -- and speed walk, run, or sprint toward it. Walk or jog to recover. Repeat until it is time to go home. Make sure to budget for a five-minute cool down.

Or walk your child to school and then jog home. Or, instead of doing work or playing on your phone as you sit waiting for your child to complete her after-school activity, bring your exercise clothes and use that hour to go for a walk or run. If you want to watch your child practice or play a game, do squats and lunges on the sidelines. Or bring a mat so you can do floor work.

I don't have children, but recently I have really embraced working out in the park. One of my best friends is on maternity leave. I try to hang out with her and her two kids at the park; I have such fun running around with her daughter, playing on the swings and monkey bars, and doing planks and other body weight exercises on the grass. What a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time with my friend. Win-win!!

2. Favourite saying: "5 by 5"

Basically, if I am not going to care about something in five years then I don't let myself give it more than five seconds of thought. Life is too short to let the little stupid things bleed into the rest of your day. I very much believe that a large part of health is adopting healthier and more productive thoughts.

3. Favourite piece of equipment: The kettlebell

Kettlebells look somewhat like a cannonball with a handle. In essence, bells are simply a weight that you swing. The momentum required makes the workout both cardiovascular and strength based. The shape of the bell adds an additional stabilization and core challenge, and the exercises require both strength and explosiveness, which means you have to move with power. Kettlebells are also relatively small, which means you can store them in your closet and work out in your living room.

A staple of kettlebell training is the swing. To do the swing start by standing, feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the handle of the kettlebell with both hands. Use your hips to generate force so that the kettlebell swings in front of you up to about eye height. Let the bell swing back down between your legs and repeat 10 to 12 times. Keep your arms straight and core engaged as you swing.

4. Favourite too-often-ignored body part: The wrist

I know: the wrists are not typical "goal" body parts. They may not be the body part you aesthetically care about, but too many of us destroy our wrists at the computer, which means the wrists become "weak links." The problem with having a weak link is it prevents other muscle groups and movements from getting stronger; you will never reach your full pull-up or push-up potential if your wrists are proportionally weaker. Plus, too often chronic discomfort and pain become yet another reason to be inactive; none of us needs an extra excuse to skip a workout.

You can use the kettlebell to strengthen your wrists. This is especially true if you do exercises holding the bell portion up in the air; your wrists have to work hard to keep the bell facing straight up toward the ceiling.

Try the "single-arm bell-up kettlebell press": Stand with your knees slightly bent, core engaged. Hold the kettlebell at chest height in one hand, bell facing the ceiling. Press the bell up 10 to 15 times. Don't let the bell wobble. Repeat with the other hand. For an extra challenge hold the bell up in the air as you do walking lunges.

For more fitness and health tips, take a look at past "favourite things" blogs! Tips include "do anywhere" Tabata interval workouts, my "go to" movie snack, my favourite upper back stretch (perfect if you sit a lot), and a yummy recipe for healthy "pizza."

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