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Get Fit and Healthy in Fall

Fall into health with these great seasonal food and fitness ideas.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

There's hardly a better time of year than fall. The heat of summer dissipates, giving way to beautiful temperatures framed by a hard, blue sky and canopies of red, gold, and orange.

The crisper smell in the air and the settling down of a busy summer are great indicators that it's time to set goals, re-establish routines, and start creating good habits for the upcoming winter.

"Fall is about gathering strength and energy to prepare for the challenges ahead," says Justin Price, named 2006 Personal Trainer of the Year by the IDEA fitness association.

Don't wait until New Year's Eve over a cocktail to make almost-sure-to-fail promises to yourself for the year ahead. Here are 10 ways you can use this upcoming season to become a fitter and better you.

1. Get fit outdoors. Hiking, mountain biking, walking, and rollerblading are all great picks for fall, says Kelli Calabrese, MS, exercise physiologist, fitness consultant, and author of Feminine, Firm & Fit.

Choose outdoor activities first, she suggests, since in some areas of the country, you'll soon be relegated to the gym and exercise videos.

Things quiet down outdoors now, with children back to school, says Price. Check out some of the parks in your area, or get out on the beach, if, like Price, you're lucky enough to be near one.

Throw the Frisbee around or do some squats and lunges in the sand, while watching the surf. Be creative. Try an outdoor boot camp class for something different.

"If you develop positive strategies now, it will be harder for you to give in to temptation as the holidays and the winter months come around," says Price.

"If you feel good and self-confidence is high, you want to treat yourself right, don't you?" asks Price. "Just by doing physical activity," he says, you'll maintain that self-confidence. "When swimsuit season comes back around, it'll to be easier to lose 10 pounds than 35," he says.

2. Exercise family-style. Pick things you can do as a family, like rock climbing, canoeing, or bowling to keep everyone striving for better health and fitness, she says.

Some of the local parks even have fitness courses you could run through together. Set a family weekend to head to a new state park and check out the foliage or go apple picking, she suggests.

Lots of activities start up in the fall, adds Calabrese, from running and cycling clubs to local classes at the YMCA.

Calabrese encourages you to try it as a family. "Start a martial art, everyone's a beginner together; you all start out as a white belt and progress from there," says Calabrese.

"Don't force family members to do things like go to the gym with you," says Price, but rather, "combine exercise with family activities you already do."

He suggests playing football, basketball, ice-skating or taking a long walk with the dog instead of sitting around the television with rental movies and video games. Join a softball league or soccer team. Take up yoga, tennis, or salsa dancing.

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