Fall Fitness Challenge
Fall is just around the corner, a time of more moderate daytime temperatures and cooler evenings.
Whether you make your home in rural Vermont, rocky Colorado, northern California, or big cities like Philadelphia, New York or Washington, D.C., turning the season and your local attractions into fitness incentives can give you the extra push you need to lose a few pounds, build lean muscle mass, up your cardio routine, and power though the most mundane exercises or grueling challenges, fueled by famous landmarks, autumn vistas, and clean, crisp air.
For many of us, exercise means three or four visits a week to the local gym with the same weights, cardio machines, exercise balls, and mats, making squat thrusts and lateral pulls about as exciting as a bowl of soggy Brussels sprouts. With summer’s last vestiges of heat and humidity disappearing at each turn of the calendar page, strapping on a set of blades, hiking boots or some trusty running shoes and heading for the nearest hills, beaches, civic sights or monuments, grabbing a paddle and heading for the river, or jumping on a bike to enjoy autumn’s explosive colors, can fire up a lackluster routine and even help target muscles you never knew you had.
While some regions of the country offer unparalleled outdoor scenery that includes mountains, lakes, beaches and the like, metropolitan living is no deterrent to tightening those abs and working those glutes — outdoors. Something seemingly as simple as an extended walking tour of your city (Boston is famous for these) can give your legs and lungs a good workout (decide to up the pace as often as possible). And remember the famous scene in “Rocky” where Sylvester Stallone blasted up 72 stone steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Well why not you! Eight or 10 repetitions (more, when you’re ready) will chisel those thighs and increase lung capacity like nothing else. If you live in D.C., try racing up and down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and then running around the pool at the National Mall in between Lincoln and the National Monument. Thirty minutes per day of these challenges may even help sculpt areas you never knew were there before.
Do you live in Texas or the Midwest, where skies appear endless and the land is flat? Running can be fun and certainly worthwhile here, but creating an obstacle or circuit training course along the way with marked trees, benches, rocks, tires, and ropes can add dimension and additional benefits to your routine without relegating you to the inside of a gym.
As with all fitness routines, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure you are up to the challenge. And, though temperatures are falling, failing to hydrate properly can have the same dangerous effects seen in warmer months, so avail yourself of lots of water and/or appropriate sports drinks.
Overall, taking advantage of fall’s crisp air and vibrant scenery, and using a little ingenuity in your city or rural fitness routine, can set you on a course you will look forward to keeping and even want to reinstitute next spring, when the snow melts.