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Blast calories with a fun, fall-inspired workout

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Fun fall fitness

Now that the temperature is dropping it can be tempting to head indoors and turn to the treadmill versus exercising outdoors -- but there’s no better time than fall to get fit in the fresh air. The cool, crisp breeze is much more conducive to outdoor fitness than the humidity and blazing sun of summer, and the more time you spend outside, the better you’re bound to feel. We’ve put together a cooler weather workout routine that will help rev up your workout routine this fall.

Woman doing stretches in the fall

Expert fall fitness

SheKnows turned to fitness expert, personal trainer and global fitness consultant Sara Haley for help on how to make fitness more fun this fall. She provided some effective exercises inspired by the season that will have you working hard, but having a great time while you burn calories and tone your muscles. Her goal was to create a well-rounded workout that takes inspiration from traditional fall activities – from raking leaves to getting ready for Halloween. "My background is in choreography, so I have a really fun time creating theme-inspired workouts," she tells us. "Plus, I'm someone who really doesn't like to work out unless I can find a way to make it fun!"

Rake and shake

Raking leaves may be an annoying chore associated with fall, but it's also good exercise. So good, in fact, that Haley created an exercise inspired by this seasonal rite of passage.

  1. Clasp your hands together as if you were holding a rake.
  2. Step to the right into a side lunge (left leg stays straight).
  3. Rotate your torso over your right leg and reach your arms out to the right.
  4. Slowly bring your body back to the center as if you were raking some wayward leaves.
  5. Moving counter-clockwise, continue lunging in a circle (three to four times) until you're back where you started.
  6. Repeat with your left leg. The key to getting the most from this move is using your entire body.

Football feet

Whether you watch football willingly or vow to hide the TV remote at the start of every season, you can't deny those players get a good workout. Haley has designed a fun exercise based on this much-loved (and sometimes not-so-loved) sport.

  1. Hold your arms at your chest as if you were ready to catch a football.
  2. Picking your feet up as high as you can, run in high-knee steps to your right, alternating right, left, right (you should land with the left knee up).
  3. Now run to the left (same high-knee steps, left, right, left)
  4. Run to the back (right, left, right) and swing your arms and torso back as if you were about to catch the ball.
  5. Run to the front (left, right, left) and "throw" the ball.
  6. Repeat. This is a great core and cardiovascular speed and agility exercise.

Pumpkin roll

One of the best parts of fall is a trip to the pumpkin patch. Haley suggests turning your pumpkin-picking expedition into a way to burn calories and tone your lower body.

  1. Open up your hips and keep your chest lifted as you squat down to pick up a pumpkin.
  2. Instead of picking it back up, stay low and walk forward in your squat as you roll your pumpkin across the pumpkin patch.
  3. Stand up slowly.
  4. Squat down again to do your pumpkin roll back the other way. Repeat four to six times.

Stationary hike

No time to head out onto the trails for a hike? No problem. Haley has a great exercise with all the fat-blasting benefits of a trip into the wilderness.

  1. Take a big step forward with the right foot into a lunge, as if you were hiking up a hill.
  2. Put your hands on the ground in front of your right leg.
  3. Walk your right leg straight back, then your left to meet in a plank (the top of a push-up).
  4. Walk your left leg forward into a lunge and stand up, bringing your feet together.
  5. Repeat the sequence beginning with a walking left lunge.
  6. Begin slowly and gradually to pick up speed. This is a great total body exercise working legs, core, and shoulders. As you pick up speed, you will also feel a cardiovascular challenge.

Frankenstein abs

In honor of Halloween (another one of fall's best features), Haley added a core exercise inspired by our favorite candy-filled holiday.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air, hips in line with your feet, and feet flexed.
  2. Reach your arms out in front of you.
  3. Keeping your core engaged and your head on the floor, begin your "Frankenstein" walk:  Simultaneously lower your right arm (do not let it touch the ground) and your left leg closer to the floor. Hold for a count of two (remember, Frankenstein moves slowly).
  4. Switch arms and legs. Alternate 10 times.
  5. Try to keep your limbs as straight as possible as you do this, just like Frankenstein. Only go as far as you can while keeping your core engaged. If you feel your rib cage start to open up, you've lowered your leg too far.

Black cat stretch

Black cats are synonymous with Halloween, but they also know a thing or two about staying limber. Try this stretch, inspired by a spooky feline.

  1. Begin on all fours with hands underneath shoulders and knees underneath your hips.
  2. Lift both knees up off of the floor and hover with your core engaged for a count of ten. (Feel free to also lift one knee at a time.) 
  3. Lower your knees and round your back like a cat stretching. Hold for a count of four.
  4. Release and arch your back, looking all the way up to the ceiling. Remember to breathe deeply. Repeat two to three times.

Watch: Playground fitness

Swing-set fitness is a form of resistance training that is perfect for weight loss or strength training. Watch this video for examples of swing-set exercises for the legs, chest, shoulders, arms, butt, core and other muscles.

More fitness tips and advice

Calorie-burning sports drills for non-athletes
Core training with the medicine ball
Staying fit and trim after an injury

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