Archive for November, 2012

Fun Fall Activities to Stay Moving

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Summer is over, school is in full swing, and it’s so tempting to curl up on the couch with a vat of popcorn and the remote. Resist the call of the Sunday afternoon snooze, because there are lots of great ways to enjoy the crisp, cool days and get in a workout while you’re at it.

Take a Hike

Now is a great time to get out among some nature and breathe in the season. The trees are changing colors; the air crackles with the scents of evergreens and falling leaves. Skies are deep blue, and the clouds are active. Leave your ear buds at home and enjoy the sounds as well as the sights; birds and squirrels are entertaining busybodies right now. Plan a nature walk or just get out in your local park and look around. Go on an urban hike and check out the fall produce at the farmers’ market to what is in season. It doesn’t take very many blocks to get your heart rate up, and you may have such a good time you won’t even know you’re exercising.

hiking spark

Rake It In

Is your yard full of leaves? Did you miss your upper body workout this week? These are two birds you can take out with one garden implement. Raking is a great activity for your arms and back, and it can be a very meditative task as well. Also, you’ll see the results of all of your hard work as soon as you’re done, which is not generally the case when you leave the weight room. When all the effort is over, if you think you’re too old to jump in a pile of leaves, guess again. This can be a fun way to reap the rewards of this task with the kids.

Pass It On

It’s football season! Whether you’re a fan or not, you can have some fun with a few friends or your kids tossing a ball around at the park or in your own back yard. It’s a cardio workout, it improves balance and coordination, and it also releases endorphins because it’s a great time with people you love. You don’t need to know the rules; just enjoy yourself. Don’t have a football? Pretend you’re a high school athlete and just go run some bleacher stairs.

Hit the Patch

Skip the boring supermarket pumpkin bins and get yourself out to a farm to choose your own pumpkin pie ingredients. Lifting the jumbo pumpkins works your upper body; and carrying them is great for your abs, glutes, and quads. Make sure to use your legs and core when lifting for a little extra workout. If you find a farm with a challenging corn maze, you can work out your mind and your body at the same time for an afternoon full of outdoor antics. A visit to the pumpkin patch is a fun idea for a family activity, a date, or a get-together with friends.

Stretch Out by the Fire

At the end of your busy day, slip in a yoga DVD, light a fire, and do some serious unwinding in the comfort of your own home. The heat will keep your body warm and comfortable, and the yoga poses will help your mind and muscles relax. It’s an excellent way to let go of all the stress of the day while doing something fantastic for your body. The practice of yoga is known to improve circulation, immunity, muscle tone, digestion, mental clarity, and balance. It strengthens your body and calms your mind. What more could you ask for?

Don’t let fall laziness be the gateway to winter doldrums. Get out and enjoy the season. Autumn is a beautiful time of change; take a moment to think about what you harvested personally this year and what you can happily let go of. It’s a time of powering down and turning your thoughts toward family, togetherness, and home, and it’s also a time to adjust your fitness routine to align with these priorities. You’ll look and feel great, and you won’t have to feel guilty about relishing in some of the other benefits of fall, like apple cider and pumpkin pie.

Photo Credit: Kleine Scheidegg hiking trails by Ed Coyle

Too Cold To Play Outside? Try These Fun Indoor Activities To Stay Fit!

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

It’s dark, it’s cold, the kids are bored, and everybody (including you) could use a little exercise and a break from staring at the TV screen. A healthy workout is especially important during the winter, not only to burn calories and keep muscles and organs in shape, but also to improve your mood. Vigorous activity releases endorphins that make people feel better, and any activity that requires thinking, learning, and strategy is especially valuable to bring your brain into your workout for full-body wellness. Below are a few ideas for exercise in the house and out of it, for families with kids or anyone looking for a change in routine.

Climb the Walls

Check out your local climbing gym. Indoor rock climbing and slack lining are among those activities that exercise your brain so you don’t even realize you’re getting a serious workout until the next day when your muscles complain. Very little training is required, and helpful professionals will be there to make sure everyone has a good time and goes home in one piece. Many gyms offer day passes, and some have special hours and activities for kids. If you’ve got a kid’s birthday coming up this season, the climbing gym is also a great venue for a party.


Get Up and Dance

Dancing is another excellent workout for mind and body. Many gyms and fitness centers offer dance classes; you can get your groove on to anything from salsa to Bollywood. Dance is a fantastic cardio workout, and it improves memory, coordination, and balance. You can do it alone, with a partner, or with a group of any age. You can just as easily dance at home, either with kids or all on your own, so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing your awesome moves. Push back the furniture, put on something fun and upbeat, and let your inner dance diva out to play.

Clean Up!

Cleaning your house may not qualify with all constituents as a “fun” activity, but you can make it enjoyable with the addition of great music. Cleaning works up a sweat, and it involves all your major muscle groups. Get your kids involved doing something new and different: instead of asking them to clean the tub, have them create a chemistry experiment with baking soda and vinegar in the bathtub, and have them see what a great job that does of scrubbing away soap scum. Invite them to mop the kitchen floor. After all, how often do kids get a chance to spill water all over the floor on purpose? Also, many young grade-schoolers really like to use the vacuum, including all its fun hoses and attachments. Work alongside your children, play energetic music, and offer an incentive at the end of the day besides the satisfaction of a sparkling clean house. Homemade hot cocoa or frozen fruit smoothies make great low-fat rewards for all.

Get Twisted

Play some Twister! It’s a fun time for a group of kids on a cold day, and if you don’t think of Twister as exercise, give it a try sometime. If you and the kids aren’t in to Twister, try clearing some space for a makeshift yoga studio. If you’re out of shape or have forgotten all your asanas, there are plenty of great yoga videos available for free on YouTube.

Embrace the Chill

When nothing else appeals to you, bundle up and head for your nearest indoor ice skating rink. Take a whole gang of kids and practice figure eights, or just practice staying vertical. Either way, it’s a great workout and fun for all ages. Skating works muscle groups that don’t see much use at any other time, and it’s invigorating. Plus, if you introduce a kid to the ice, you may be opening the door for a future Olympian or Stanley Cup winner.
Winter doesn’t have to be a time of laziness and boredom, and exercise doesn’t have to be a structured activity. If you enjoy doing it (or need to get it done) and it gets your heart pumping and endorphins flowing, then it counts as physical activity. Put down the boring excuses, and get up and move!