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Fall Fitness
Photo: Joe Klune
Autumn is the perfect time to cultivate a new outdoors fitness plan paired with healthy eating habits, according to Tracey Shaffer, a dietician from Blue Springs, Missouri. “Fall is a great time to discover the outdoors,” Shaffer says. Whether you’re walking, hiking, cycling or exploring parks, fall offers the possibility of invigorating fresh air workouts. Plus, with bumper crops of nutrient-rich foods in autumn, smart diet choices are even easier.

Shaffer advises eating plenty of fresh, low-calorie and vitamin-rich apples, pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, pears and cranberries. “Go for all the dark, intense colors of fall, such as reds, oranges and dark greens,” Shaffer adds. She also recommends taking advantage of the versatility of apples by eating them raw, dried and baked. Homemade apple juice or sauce is both delicious and nutritious. Apples can also be added to salads, grain dishes and sandwiches for extra crunch.

Save the seeds from your winter squash and pumpkins and roast them, or dice them into soup or salad. Adding dried cranberries and pecans to salads also boosts flavor and nutrition.

Rake Leaves

When it comes to exercise, consider yourself fortunate if you have outdoor yard work to do. Raking leaves for only 30 minutes can burn more than 150 calories. Garden clean up is also a good muscle-building activity.

You can take your favorite indoor exercises outdoors, too. Lay an exercise matt in the backyard for a stimulating “close to nature” workout. Or take free weights and resistance bands out to your deck or patio.

By adopting and sticking with a healthy fall exercise and eating regime, you can also reduce the stress during the upcoming holiday season that often leads to overeating. Shaffer suggests focusing on weight management during the holidays by eating large portions of delicious low-calorie foods, such as raw fruits and veggies, and small portions of special holiday foods you love. “If you establish healthy habits in the fall, you’re more likely to carry them over into the holiday months,” Shaffer says, “because you’ll already have those natural stress relievers in place."

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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