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Fall is my favorite time of year

By Lori Schloeder Gress

This morning I am watching to see the neighborhood kids waiting for the bus in their new school clothes with their heavy backpacks loaded with "stuff" to make the school year awesome. The kids are all excited to see their friends after a long summer vacation — much like we did growing up in Wadena; for some reason we didn't see the "farm" kids or the "Bluffton" kids during the summer, but we were sure excited to see everyone when school started again in the fall — well, at least for the first couple of weeks.

I love to decorate inside and outside with bales of hay, scarecrows, pumpkins, leaves, corn stalks and anything else I can find! I start baking with pumpkin, nutmeg, allspice and cloves in every recipe — just to have "that" smell in the house! And speaking of smell — do you remember the "nostalgic" smell of leaves burning! Remember when it was legal to burn piles of leaves in your yard — in town???

But, most of all, I love to walk during the fall! I am an early riser and love to walk in the wee hours of the morning when the dew is still moist on the ground and I can hear the rustling and crunching of leaves — and the sun begins to rise about the time I am heading for home. It is a beautiful time of the year to be active whether it is early in the morning or just in time for a gorgeous sunset.

And, it is an important time to get back into the routine of exercise before the long winter months of potential inactivity. Think of September as the new year — kids are back to school, new routine, time to start making the most of the season! Here are ten tips for taking advantage of fall exercise from WebMD:

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.

Discover park trails and take in some new scenery, whether you're walking, biking, or in-line skating. In places where snow falls early, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or, if you live near the beach, get out and play volleyball, throw the Frisbee around, or play a vigorous game of fetch with your dog. It's a great time to do beach activities because it's so much less crowded - if you're near a lake, try kayaking or canoeing, for an excellent whole-body workout and a great change of pace.

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 great calorie-burning!

2. Think outside the box. Always wanted to learn to tap dance? Attempt to box? Master the jump rope? Ask any schoolchild: 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. (Have you seen the Fall 2013 Community Education offerings in Wadena?) And with the kids in school, parents have more time to check out those classes.

Fall is the perfect time to gain new physical skills, because you burn fewer calories when you begin a new activity. If you learn something new now, by next summer, you'll have mastered the skill -- and you'll burn more calories doing it, just in time for swimsuit season.

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 - make a date with exercise and TV.

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 taking kids to soccer practice, instead of reading a book or visiting with another parent - why not walk around the outside of the field while they practice, or (if you feel comfortable) warm up and cool down with the kids?

• Or try "walking meetings!" Go for a walk, brainstorm, and figure out who's going to take what responsibilities. 'Things get achieved much more quickly and everyone feels better for doing it.

• You can even get moving while you get motivated -- for fitness or other life goals. Get some inspirational music or find a motivational talk and download it to your iPod. Walk while you listen for 30 minutes.

5. Rejuvenate yourself. Fall is the time to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Get a massage after your run. 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 are "the three Cs" that will lead to a successful fitness program. First, exercise takes commitment. We're all busy; that's just part of our lives. You have to start planning exercise, just like you do everything else, like meetings, dinners, and getting kids to lessons and practice. Put it 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. Work out for 10 minutes a day rather than one hour every month — find a pattern that works for you.

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. DriFit fabric wicks moisture away from your skin so you're not exercising with wet fabric hanging on you. Three layers are suggested: 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 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. You want to know when you're doing a good job, and when you're not.

Remember too, that anything worth having takes work.

And...remember that next year (fingers and toes crossed!), the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center will be opening and we can all work out inside and not have to think about the weather!

Your contributions continue to make a difference in how the project will get completed. Please contact one of the fundraising committee members to make your donation today - Jeff Browne, Mike Craig, Luther Nervig, John Paulson, Joel Beiswenger, Don Niles or Lori Gress.