The watersports don't have to end once summer is over. Kayaking provides a great way to enjoy cooler temperatures and fall foliage. Many cardiovascular exercises work the lower body, but few challenge the upper body the way paddling does. Kayaking at a moderate pace for 60 minutes will burn 478 calories.
Family Scavenger Hunt
Take the family to the park and organize a fast-paced scavenger hunt to get moving. Create a list of autumn items such a gold leaf, acorn, heart-shaped rock, animals, and flowers. Leave nature undisturbed and gather your items by snapping a quick photo. Set the timer and set out to find the items as quickly as possible. Brisk walking or jogging on your search will keep your heart rate up and burn calories while you have fun as a family. Walking at a brisk pace, about 3.5 miles per hour, for 30 minutes burns 112 calories.
After the big game, gather your group together and play a little football of your own. Flag football is a game just about anyone can play. It’s low impact and will increase your heart rate, boosting calorie burn and improving your fitness with frequent breaks so that you can take things at your own pace. Playing touch or flag football for 60 minutes burns 558 calories.
Hiking provides a low intensity, long duration activity that burns calories. Research also shows that this type of activity may improve blood cholesterol and insulin function. The cooler temperatures, low humidity, and beautiful colors of the season make fall one of the best times to head out for a hike. Hiking for 60 minutes burns 478 calories.
You don’t need to be on a team to take advantage of the cardiovascular and leg strengthening benefits of soccer. Passing the ball, taking some shots on goal, and running the field for 30 minutes is plenty of time to get a challenging workout and you will burn 239 calories.
Nature trails provide one of the best places to workout in the fall. The changing fall colors create a peaceful exercise atmosphere and the dirt trail is easier on the joints than harder surfaces like concrete. Signing up for a trail race is a good way to stay motivated. You can experience a new exercise environment with the security of being on the trail with others and with access to support stations. Start with shorter distances as elevation and terrain can make trail running more challenging than running on the road or treadmill. If a 5K race takes you 30 minutes, you will burn about 379 calories.
*All calorie estimates are based on a 150-pound female.
Your core is made up of the muscles of the abdominals and the lower back. These muscles work together to support almost every movement you make. A strong core improves your balance and flexibility, but it may also reduce back pain and improve your ability to recover from injury. Get creative with your routine and add some of these moves to strengthen core muscles.
Step your right foot out two to three feet in front of you. Hold a 5 to 10 pound dumbbell with both hands at chest level. Slowly lower into a lunge and twist your torso to the right. Stand back up into the starting position and rotate your torso back to the center. To make the move more challenging, hold the dumbbell out away from your body with your arms extended. Do 10 to 12 repetitions to the right, switch your legs and repeat on the other side.
Standing Back Raises
Stand with your feet a little wider than hips-width apart. Place your fingertips behind your ears. Keeping the upper body in a straight line from your head to your lower back, bend forward at the hips until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Keep your upper body in a straight line and raise back up to the starting position. Repeat for 10 to 12 repetitions.
Side Plank Raises
Lie on your right side with your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heel. Prop yourself up on your right elbow and forearm with your hips elevated off the floor. Slowly lower your body towards the floor until your right hip almost touches the ground. Raise your hips back to the the starting position. Do 10 to 12 repetitions on the right and switch sides.
Single Side Bicycle Crunch
Lie on your back on the floor. Place your fingertips behind your ears and extend your right leg so it is elevated about six inches off the floor. Keep your left foot flat on the floor with the knee bent. Crunch and curl to the right as you bring your right knee in towards your left shoulder. Return to the starting position. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions and switch sides.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rest your arms on the floor along your sides, palms facing down. Press through your heels and raise your bottom off the ground creating a straight line from your knees down to your shoulders. Hold for one count and release. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions.
Walking is an effective exercise, but it’s easy to get into a rut with your routine. When you continue to walk for the same time and distance at the same intensity, your fitness is no longer challenged and you may no longer see results. This doesn’t mean you have to stop walking. Add some of these creative variations to your workout to get the heart pumping and to continue improving your fitness.
By varying your speed throughout your walk, you can boost calorie burn without overexerting yourself. Start at a leisurely pace, walk a little faster for 60 seconds, and then walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds to 60 seconds. Return to your leisurely place for 60 seconds and continue to repeat the intervals throughout your entire walk. If you’d rather not keep time, use landmarks for your intervals. For example, walk quickly to the stop sign and then recover until you get to the fire hydrant.
Alter your environment
A boring walk feels like it lasts forever and your lack of interest could slow you down to a shuffle. Choose walking environments that energize you or those that relieve your stress, and alternate where you walk to avoid boredom. Take time to investigate what types of walking environments you have access to. You might be surprised to find nature trails, beaches, paved trails around lakes, high school cross-country courses, and quaint downtown streets, which all provide enjoyable places to walk.
Find an incline
Whether you are on a treadmill or outside, increasing the grade on your course is a quick and easy way to increase the intensity. On the treadmill, instead of changing the speed during intervals, try increasing the incline. If you are outdoors, find a hilly route or stairs to instantly challenge your fitness.
Your workout doesn’t have to be limited to walking. A 30-to-45-minute walk provides a great opportunity to work in some strength training. Walk for 5 minutes, stop and do a set of lunges. Walk for 5 more minutes and do a set of bicep curls with an exercise band. Adding some different activities will make your workout go faster and you’ll have both your cardio and strength training completed in one session.
Beat your time
Turn your walks into a competition with yourself. Stick with the same course and distance for two weeks. Record your total time on your first workout. On each walk that follows, try to beat the time before it. Not only will you increase your pace and challenge your fitness, you will gain a sense of accomplishment from achieving your goal.
The foam roller is a dense cylinder-shaped piece of foam used to give muscles a mini-massage with big fitness benefits. Foam rolling muscles lengthens and stretches the muscle, increasing blood flow.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, recent research shows that regular foam rolling can help decrease muscle soreness and improve range of motion. A reduction in muscle soreness may increase the likelihood that a person will stick with an exercise program. Improvements in range of motion (flexibility) may improve exercise form and overall performance. Research also shows that foam rolling can help prevent injuries.
Foam rolling can be used for myofascial release, which is a deep massage technique that reduces muscle tension by breaking down scar tissue and adhesions that form in the muscle. The tissue and adhesions can be caused by regular exercise, but they also develop due to stress, overuse, or low levels of physical activity. Foam rolling may also help relieve the pain associated with common conditions like IT band syndrome and shin splints.
The foam roller can be used to massage most muscles including the upper back, quadriceps, inner and outer thighs, hamstrings, and calves. It’s important not to jump into foam rolling without some instruction. Massaging a muscle with the foam roller isn’t always comfortable, but it is important that you perform it correctly so that you achieve the mild discomfort that works the muscle and do not risk aggravating injuries.
If you plan to use the roller at a gym, ask a trainer to provide basic instructions and evaluate whether you are performing the moves correctly. If you purchased your foam roller for home use, read the instructions carefully and review exercise examples or DVDs that are included. You can also seek out instructional videos or articles online from accredited fitness organizations like the American Council on Exercise.
Making it a part of your exercise plan
Foam rolling should be an addition to your workouts and not replace other components of your fitness plan. Warm up, cool down, and stretching exercises are all still important. Foam rolling should be incorporated with these activities to stretch and massage the muscles further and to reduce muscle soreness, help improve mobility, and reduce the risk for future injuries.
Running 3.1 miles to complete a 5K race takes both fitness training and a healthy eating plan. It is important to start preparing several days before so that you get the fuel you need to feel your best on race day and perform well in your event.
Carb-loading and 5Ks
Carbohydrate loading is an eating method used to maximize glycogen stores (sugar stored for energy in the muscles and liver). It’s often associated with running, but not all distances require this dietary practice. Research shows that carb-loading is beneficial for events that take 90 minutes or longer to complete. Depending on pace, most runners will finish a 5K in 20 to 40 minutes. A mixed diet of about 50 percent carbohydrates is effective for giving you the fuel you need.
Low-fat and Low-fiber
About one week before the event, continue to eat your regular healthy diet. Aim to make it about 50 percent carbohydrates and include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fat. About three to four days before the event gradually reduce your fat intake and focus more on carbohydrates that are lower in fiber. While lean protein is still important, too much fat and fiber take longer to digest and they can cause stomach upset.
Don’t use your race as an excuse to load up on baked goods, sodas, or candy, which have little nutritional value. Continue to eat healthy and include low-fiber fruits without edible seeds and skins like bananas and melons. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rice can also be helpful in getting the quick-burning carbohydrates you need to store glycogen during these few days before the race.
Learning what to eat and when to eat before a 5K takes some trial and error, but here are a few tips to help you prepare in the final 2 to 12 hours before the event.
Instead of eating a large dinner the night before, consider eating a larger lunch and a small dinner. This helps reduce the risk of overeating and feeling stuffed the next morning before the race.
Keep your pre-race meals low-fat and low-fiber and high in carbohydrates. People tolerate fat at different levels. For example, while nut butter on toast may work well for some, others may find that it causes a stomach ache.
Test your pre-race meals and snacks. Try eating what you plan to have on race day before a few training runs a couple weeks prior to the event.
If you feel like you need a meal before the race, consider getting up early so you can eat at least four hours before the event and give it time to digest. Otherwise a snack about 2 hours before the event is good for most people.
If you find food hard to tolerate before an event, consider drinking a sports drink or similar product to supply a few calories and carbohydrates before your run.
A few ideas for pre-race snacks include: toast with jam, a low-protein energy bar, low-fiber cereal, a banana, or almond milk.