CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ahhh, the cool fall air is an amazing catalyst for fitness. While walking my dog on such a glorious morning, I decided to increase my activity and jump into these last few months of the year with a purpose and a plan. Why wait until January? After all, there's no time better than the present, and cool weather is conducive to all sorts of calorie-burning and muscle-building exercise.
If you're bored with your routine, ditch the ho-hum and renew, revamp, rethink and restart. Let's start thinking out of the box and fling ourselves into fall with an open mind and a willing heart.
Here are some wonderful ways to satisfy your fall fitness quest:
Take advantage of the ideal temperatures. Get up early and sneak in a run or a walk. The low humidity levels are invigorating and allow you to exercise harder and longer. It's also a great opportunity for optimum dog walking. In fact, our four-legged friends will have a heightened energy level, just like you.
Think out of the box -- new parks, new trails and new scenery. Venturing out to a different location can make the same activity feel fresh and new. Or be willing to try new activities; for instance, take a lesson in rollerblading (inline skating).
Tag along with a seasoned outdoorsman and discover ways to enjoy what nature has to offer. Apple picking, pumpkin carving, fall foliage tours, bird watching, horseback riding are all wonderful ideas for autumn activity.
Use our beautiful lakes, rivers and streams. Swimming, kayaking and canoeing will challenge your upper body in ways you may not be accustomed to. Fishing is also a fine way to spend the day for a change of pace, and all these water workouts double as stress managers.
If you enjoy riding a bike, change it up and try mountain biking. Use the trails for great scenery, generous shade and an off-road challenge. This type of ride is great for your heart, but will also enhance strength and balance.
Raking leaves and all sorts of yard work will get your heart pumping and muscles moving. Remember, building a healthy body doesn't have to come from a traditional exercise experience. Cleaning out a garage or washing windows will reward you in more ways than one.
With the children back in school, take advantage of the freedom to explore some of the fitness classes offered at your gym. Learn to dance, try kickboxing, spinning, yoga, tai chi, aikido or water exercise. Don't know how to swim or play tennis? Take a lesson and open up a new avenue toward health.
If you are busy shuffling children to soccer and football practices, make the best of it. Instead of sitting on the bleachers watching, come prepared to walk and be an active spectator. Move around the field or use the stairs to get in a great workout.
While you're getting physical
Focus on other aspects of health as well. Fall is such a lovely season it's easy to gravitate toward activities that promote our emotional and spiritual health. Take an art or pottery class, learn to meditate, pray or treat yourself to a massage.
Now is the time to look for ways to rejuvenate your spirit, mind and body. Make the most of this season, and you'll definitely be ahead of the game when New Year's Eve rolls around.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," at www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.