Having just returned from an early morning walk, I’m feeling inspired to write about how awesome the fall is for finding fun opportunities to engage in exercise in the beautiful New England Weather! Every weekend this month, my husband and I have decided to spend most of our weekend days outside, hiking in the White Mountains or the much more convenient Blue Hills area, and we are both happier people because of it. There’s truly something about the crisp fall air, sounds of leaves rustling, and calm feeling that surrounds us when we’re hiking, and I notice that a nice Sunday hike sets the stage for a much more relaxing work week for both of us.Now, I’ve been a trainer for years, and no matter where I’m working or who I’m working with, I’ve heard over and over that having a family and career do take away from time to exercise. I completely agree that it’s a struggle, which is why I encourage my clients to incorporate family time on the weekends to get outside and get active! Here are my top ten ideas for fall fitness, perfect for busy families:
1. Kids have a play date on Saturday? Walk them there, or arrange to meet in the local park. And don’t just sit on the bench…take at least 10 minutes to swing, jump on the slides or throw around the football. Believe me…your kids will love to see you engaging in an active way, instead of watching from afar.
2. Get ahead of those falling leaves! Take an hour on a Saturday afternoon or early evening before dinner and start raking. Have the kids help…or at least get in a few minutes of jumping in the leaf piles when you’re finished. You’ll save money on having someone else do it, and get in a good arm workout while you’re at it.
3. Vow to spend 1-2 hours outside on Saturday or Sunday, as a family. Walk a nearby trail, do a short hike, or go on a family bike ride around the neighborhood. It’s important for kids to learn how to occupy periods of time outdoors…and without their electronic devices.
4. Sign up for a local 5 K. Walk or run. Get the kids, neighbors, co-workers or other family members involved. Feel good about helping a charity and getting a workout in at the same time.
5. Go apple picking! Walking, bending, reaching, and carrying bags of apples…there’s all kinds of activity to incorporate…just make sure to find some healthy recipes to make with all those apples!
6. Halloween is coming. If your kids are going to go trick-or-treating, start early and walk. Around Boston, I don’t see this as much, but growing up in Connecticut, I remember lots of parents driving their kids from house to house. I understand that it can get dark early by the end of October, but travel in groups, stay in your neighborhood, and make sure the kids don’t get too far ahead. But do give them the chance to walk…it’s just not the same experience in a car.
7. Do the kids have a football game or practice on Saturday? While you may feel obligated to stay and watch, remember that your health is a priority too. Take 30 minutes of that 90 minute practice to walk or jog around a nearby track. You’ll be back to see most of the game, but you’ll feel much more accomplished than if you sat on the bleachers the whole time.
8. Pack lunches the night before school and work, and dedicate that 10-15 minutes in the morning to go for a quick jog before the kids wake up. The fall is a perfect time for running! If there’s no one to watch the kids, do a 10 minute yoga DVD instead. For most people, the reality is that working out at night, after you make dinner, clean up, help the kids with their home work and get them to bed, just doesn’t happen. Plus, starting off your work day with a quick workout will make you feel more energized and productive throughout your day…I promise.
9. Use time at family get-togethers to get everyone outside. In my family, we like to take walks after Sunday dinners, or after our Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it can be hard to get moving, but everyone is always grateful for the walk once we’ve made it off the couch.
10. Don’t just watch football all day on Sunday. Take the kids outside at half-time to play some football yourselves. Kids really do emulate their parents, so if you don’t want to see your kids sitting in front of the TV for 4 hours at a time, don’t do it yourself! Incorporate brief bursts of physical activities during the commercials (push-up challenge, anyone?), and play outside with them at half-time.
These are just some ideas, but be creative and enjoy the outdoors while you can. Winter is long in New England, and fall is our season. It’d be a shame to spend it sitting inside. So throw on that hoodie, pull the kids away from their devices, and get outside! Just hurry up…kick off starts at 1:00.
- Lovely Blue Hills hike with my niece