The fall may be my favorite season of the year. The weather is warm during the day and nights are crisp. The foliage paints a beautiful backdrop for the already pristine landscapes. There is a sense of quiet in the air when a light breeze whispers through the trees on a sunny autumn morning. And let me not forget the awesome power that is NFL football gracing our screens every Thursday, Sunday and Monday (to think they only used to play two days a week and we could only watch our local game... ahh memories).
With every "up," though, there is a "down." The fall season is, for some, a time to eat more (there is something comforting about eating a heavy meal on a chilly day). It's a time for soccer games or dance class with the little ones. We tend to spend more time inside than outside with the colder, shorter days. The summer fun is over with the kids back in school and work back to being the "daily grind."
Trust me, whatever the downside of fall may be, it is still not a good excuse to slack off on being the fit person you are or want to be.
There is no better time to get fit than today. On the flip side, there is no reason that if you feel fit that you need to take a break from it. There are some great ways for you to use the beautiful weather outside and the seasonal things that the autumn has to offer to help you be in better health and wellness.
Go for a hike!
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors this time of year. It's not too hot and it's not too cold. The environment around us is at its peak for beauty. Grab a pair of hiking boots or sneakers. Put on a backpack filled with the necessities like water and a healthy snack and set out to the nearest area that has trails to trek. Now remember, be safe. Always hike with a friend, make sure to bring a form of communication and hike in areas that are well lit and monitored (like a state or local park). Hiking up and down hills is great elevation training and will work your cardiovascular endurance and strength. Try this: If elevation is what you are looking for, head to your nearest mountain ski resort. These areas are usually open this time of year for hiking and mountain biking. The air is clean and the trails are super challenging!
Go pumpkin picking
It's been known for a long time that gourds like pumpkins are pretty healthy for you. And here is how. Pumpkins are loaded with beta carotene and naturally-occurring vitamin A (source). Vitamin A is a great anti-inflammatory, so if you are feeling pains from things like arthritis or joint pain, eating more foods with vitamin A properties will help (source). Pumpkins are also full of potassium and fiber, both of which help lower blood pressure and improve gut health. So when you're sitting on the couch thinking about what to do with the family, head to the nearest pumpkin farm and find the biggest gourd on the lot. Needless to say it is also a healthy decision to get outside and spend some quality time with your loved ones! Try this: Sautee pumpkin puree, white beans, garlic, onion and turkey with you favorite chili spices to make a delicious pumpkin chili. Add some jalepenos or chipotles to spice it up. Pick up a can of the pumpkin puree at your local supermarket. At this time of the year, it is easily available!
Did someone say cider?
I love this one! Apple cider is extremely tasty in my book. I'm surely not the only one who thinks so. It's got some super healthy properties that will make you want to keep sipping away this fall. According to Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute, apples are full of flavonoids (source). Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant. They specifically neutralize free radicals that have the potential of doing some real damage in your body. The difference between just drinking apple juice is that the cider is unpasteurized and contains the meat and pulp of the apple. These contents are what hold the most nutrients, including fiber, which we all know is a great enabler of proper gut health and appetite control. At this time of the year, your local supermarket should be stocked up on cider. Just go easy on the stuff. As with any fruit, it is full of natural sugar. Too much of the sweet stuff can be counterproductive to your fitness goals!
And if you want to spice up your cooking, this is a great time to introduce apple cider vinegar to your recipes. Add it to salads, marinades or hot teas. Though the research is limited, a U.S. News and World Report finds that apple cider vinegar is a superfood with many awesome properties to keep your body in tip top shape (source). It has the possibility of enhancing mood and controlling appetite. Just be careful how much you consume. Too much vinegar can burn the esophagus, which would not be good news! Try this: Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and teaspoon of honey in a hot cup of water. Add a rosemary sprig for flavor and enjoy a seasonal cup of deliciousness on a chilly autumn night.
Cancel the landscaper this month
There is no good reason for having someone else rake your leaves, unless you are physically unable to. But if you are holding the remote in one hand, grasping a brew or glass of vino in the other and are having a tough time with the decision to get up and grab a snack from the fridge or not, you are definitely capable of doing some yard work!! Doing seasonal chores like raking the leaves, mowing the lawn or tidying up the lot can be just what your body is looking for in physical activity. Raking leaves is a moderate physical activity that is great for working your arms, shoulders, back and core. Secondary benefit: Your home will be the best looking abode on the block.
For sources on the benefit of pumpkins and apple cider check out: