Ten Tips for Staying Healthy in Fall

Here are 10 ways to start making the most of the season. And who knows? This year, you might be in great shape before that New Year's Eve party rolls around.

1. Take advantage of the weather. Fall can be a treat for the senses: the crisp air, apple picking, pumpkin carving, a gorgeous canopy of fall foliage, and the crunch of leaves underfoot. These months are a great time to exercise outdoors and enjoy cooler temperatures.

And remember, it doesn't have to seem like exercise to be a great workout.

Raking leaves or doing some fall outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping, and it's great calorie-burning.

2. Think outside the box. Always wanted to learn to tap dance? Attempt to box? Master the jump rope? Fall is a great time to learn something new.

Many classes at gyms and elsewhere get started in the fall, so look around and see if something intrigues you.

3. Be an active TV watcher. Many people get geared up for fall premieres of their favorite television shows. If you're going to sit down and watch hours of TV, get moving.

While you watch, you can walk or run in place, do standing lunges, do tricep dips off the couch, or lift weights. During commercials, do push-ups or sit-ups. In a one-hour show, you probably have close to 20 minutes worth of commercial interruption.

4. Integrate exercise into your life. You already know the obvious suggestions: park farther away from your destination; take stairs instead of elevators; take a walk during your lunch break. Here are a few that are less obvious:

If you're spending the afternoon going to a game why not walk around the outside of the field before the game starts!

Or try "walking meetings or study groups”.  Go for a walk, while brainstorming! Things get achieved much more quickly and everyone feels better for doing it.

5. Rejuvenate yourself. Fall is the time to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Get a massage. Learn to meditate. Take an art class. Treat yourself not just with exercise but other activities that promote wellness so you can feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

6. Remember the 30-day rule. It takes about four weeks for the body to adapt to lifestyle changes. That's why people who give up on their fitness programs tend to do so within the first 30 days.

So, when the alarm goes off in the morning and it's darker and colder, don't roll over and hit the snooze button.

Try to stick with a program for a month. After a month, behavior patterns will have adapted and it will be much easier to stick with it after that.

7. Strive for the 3 Cs.  Commitment, convenience, and consistency. Having all three will lead to a successful fitness program.

First, exercise takes commitment. We're all busy; that's just part of our lives. Find the time.

You have to start planning exercise, just like you do everything else, like classes, studying, and practice. Put in on the calendar, because later always turns into never.

Convenience means choosing a gym that's close by, or an activity you can do at home, or a time when you're not likely to be interrupted.

Finally, there's consistency. 10 minutes a day is better than one hour every month.

8. Deal with darkness. The best way to enjoy fall is to exercise outdoors. But it is getting darker earlier, and staying dark later in the morning, so be smart and safe.

Just because it's 6 p.m. (or a.m.) and dark doesn't mean you can't work out. If walking or running outdoors wear  a reflective vest and carry a flashlight."

When cycling, affix a light to your helmet or bike.

If possible, use trails or a local school track to avoid vehicle traffic. Try to work out at the same time every day, so drivers get used to seeing you.

9. Dress in layers. When exercising outside, layer your clothing. Before your body warms up, you may feel chilled, but once the blood gets pumping, you'll feel overdressed.

These days, there's no lack of great weather gear. We recommend clothing with wicking, often called "DriFit."' This fabric wicks moisture away from your skin so you're not exercising with wet fabric hanging on you.

Three layers work best: The inner layer should be a moisture-wicking fabric, so it wicks away sweat and you're not chilled. The second layer should be a warmth layer, and the third layer should be a protective layer (like a windbreaker or rain slicker, depending on the weather).

And don't forget the sunglasses. UV protection is important year round. Fall sun can be blinding at certain times of the day.

10. Find your motivation. People are motivated by different things. It's important to first discover what your individual goals are, whether it's losing weight, strengthening and toning, or preparing for a race or event.

But goals aren't enough to get you there; you have to be motivated by the day-to-day workouts. So choose something you'll enjoy doing and will be likely to keep up, whether it's walking or hiking with a friend, working with a trainer, or taking part in a "boot camp" class.

Creating a challenge for yourself will motivate you, as will encouragement and accountability. Remember too, that anything worth having takes work.