A Healthier Tomorrow – Make fall the beginning of your “New Year”
Imagine a Healthier Tomorrow
By Alison Page, CEO Western Wisconsin Health
Adapted from a WebMD article by Barbara Russi Sarnataro
How many New Year’s Eves have you spent sipping something sparkly and vowing to get more fit in the coming year? And how many times have you fallen short of those goals?
December 31 over a glass of bubbly is too late to set goals and make promises. Fall, on the other hand, is a great time to start a fitness program because you’re going to create good habits for the holiday season and the upcoming winter months. With the change of seasons comes a renewed time to rethink and restart. What’s so special about January?
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. And remember, it doesn’t have to seem like exercise to be a great workout. Raking leaves or doing some fall outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping, and it’s great calorie-burning.
- Think outside the box. Always wanted to learn to tap dance? Take up yoga? Signup for something new now. Many classes at gyms get started in the fall, so look around and see if something intrigues you.
- Be an active TV watcher. Are you enjoying the new fall TV shows? If you’re going to sit down and watch hours of TV, make a date with exercise and TV. While you watch, you can walk or run in place, do standing lunges, do triceps 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. You already know the obvious suggestions: park farther away from your destination; take stairs instead of elevators; take a walk during your lunch break. Here are a few that are less obvious:
- If you’re spending the afternoon taking kids to soccer practice, instead of reading a book or visiting with another parent, walk around the outside of the field while they practice.
- Or, try “walking meetings” at work.
- You can even get moving while you get motivated — for fitness or other life goals. Get some inspirational music or find a motivational talk and download it to your iPod. Walk while you listen for 30 minutes.
- 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. Reward yourself for your efforts!
- 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. Try to stick with a program for a month. After a month, behavior patterns will have adapted and it will be much easier to stick with it after that.
- Strive for the 3 Cs: commitment, convenience, and consistency.
First, exercise takes commitment. You might think you are too busy to exercise. Well, everyone is busy; that’s just part of life. Schedule your exercise and make it a priority.
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, there’s consistency. Start small, maybe fifteen minutes a day, and work your way up.
- 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. If possible, use trails or a local school track to avoid vehicle traffic. When cycling, affix a light to your helmet or bike.
- 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. The inner layer should wick moisture away from your body. The middle layer is for warmth, and the third layer should protect you from wind or moisture. And, don’t forget to wear sunglasses. Protection from UV rays is necessary all year-round.
- Find your motivation. People are motivated by different things. 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. Creating a challenge for yourself will motivate you.
But goals aren’t enough to get you there; ideally you should be motivated by the day-to-day workouts. Choose something you’ll enjoy doing and will be likely to keep up, whether it’s walking or hiking with a friend, working with a trainer, or taking part in a “boot camp” class.
Remember too, that anything worth having takes work.
Note: The Western Wisconsin Health fitness team can assist you with your personal fitness goals. Check out our health and wellness services at www.wwhealth.org or call 715-684-1111 and ask to speak with a personal fitness coach in the fitness center.