5 Healthy Ways to Embrace Fall

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It can be easy to complain about the dark mornings, chilly temperatures and gloomy weather that fall brings. It's also the start of the holiday season, which can be cheerful (presents, family and fun!) or dreadful (food, stress and calories!), depending on your viewpoint. But if you look on the bright side, this season of changes has a lot to offer when it comes to your health and fitness.
In fact, according to SparkPeople.com polls with more than 5,000 responses each, fall is a clear winner for exercising outdoors (46%) and offering the best activity options (47%) of all the seasons.
So how can you avoid the pitfalls and let this season work in your favor—so that you get fitter and healthier and continue reaching your goals?
Embrace Fall to Enhance Your Health
  1. Take Comfort in Your Foods
    34% of you vote soups and stews as your favorite fall food (get our best fall soup recipes!). Fall is a great time to turn to comforting foods that warm you up on a chilly night. There's nothing wrong with that—when you make sure the foods you choose are good for your body and your waistline. Forget the high fat ice cream, hot cocoa and baked goods. These fall comfort foods will satisfy your cravings without hurting your weight loss goals.
  2. Get Outside!
    Fall is by far my favorite season to run, walk and hike with my dog (or friends), and I'm not alone. SparkPeople members vote hiking as their #1 favorite fall activity. There are so many options for enjoying the season and taking in the sights while still burning calories. For example, you could view all that raking as a hassle, or as a great way to get outside and enjoy the colors, sights and smells of the season while burning calories. Here are more ways to burn fat with fun fall activities.
  3. Get Your Sleep Back on Schedule
    I'll admit that as much as I love sleeping and have a tendency to oversleep (a vice, as too much sleep is just as bad for your health as too little) along with problems falling asleep each night. It's a vicious cycle. But thanks to the recent time change, I've actually been feeling more rested thanks to my extra hour of sleep—and been able to wake up earlier each morning without feeling tired for once! I'm doing my best to stick with this improved sleep schedule even on the weekends. In truth, the darker nights definitely make me tired sooner and actually do help me get to bed earlier than I would normally. Take advantage of this to get your circadian rhythm back on track. And when you wake up feeling rested, you're that much more likely to squeeze in that morning workout you promised yourself. Here are more tips to help your body adjust to the end of daylight saving time.  
  4. Start Your Day on a Healthy Note
    Although spring and summer offer brighter mornings, the saying "early to bed, early to rise" is true even in the darker months. I tend to have more energy and motivation in the morning, especially after a restful night's sleep. If you're like me, take advantage of it! It can be tough to leave the house in the dark, return home in the dark, and then make yourself hit the gym or cook dinner. That's why it pays off to start your day on a healthy note: with breakfast, a little exercise, even a little "Spark" time. Pack your lunch in the morning or get dinner ready to go in your slow cooker. This way, when you come home and it's already dark out, you'll have at least made some smart, healthy decisions to start your day.
  5. Eat Your Vitamins
    Hippocrates' famous wisdom tells us to "Let thy food be thy medicine and they medicine be thy food." We know that what we eat influences our health maybe more than any other habit in our lives. And when you eat seasonally, you're taking in some of the most essential nutrients you need. Fall produce (think pumpkin, winter squash, apples and garlic) are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and your immune system in tip-top shape. There are so many healthy and delicious ways to enjoy them, too, weather straight-up or as additions to your favorite recipes. Be creative and eat those vitamins to stay healthy all season long.
Whether you view the end of summer as a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of perspective. Personally, I choose to look on the bright side and tweak my own food and fitness habits so I can benefit from the best that fall has to offer. I'll be making my pumpkin & apple waffles, hiking with my four-legged daughter (Ginger loves fall, too), going to bed earlier, and taking it one day at a time so that I stay on track now and well into the holiday season.
How about you? What is your favorite way to embrace fall food or fitness?

For more fall fitness tips and recipes, check out SparkPeople's "Fit & Healthy Fall" Pinterest board.

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See more: fall


KATHYJO56 3/5/2021
I love Fall. Report
I love fall! Report
"Let thy food be thy medicine and they medicine be thy food."
I think you meant to type "thy" instead of "they." Report
Thanks for the toos Report
Great blog! Report
I prefer fitness over food. Thank you Coach Nicole! Another good one! Report
I love fall, and my creativity is enhanced. I take my camera for photos and art ideas! Fun! Report
Thanks, that was a nice informative blog, giving me plenty of reminders and new ideas. Cheers! Report
I love walking outside in the morning after dawn and before the sun risesvery high. Report
Where I live, fall (when it finally arrives in November/Decemeber) is welcome because we've been enduring high temps and high humiditiy for about 8 months. So the cooler drier days of fall are appreciated. However, I have to be careful about outdoor exercise in the fall because fall is peak allergy season for me. I have trouble with allergies year-round, but my worst triggers make an appearance in the fall. Report
by taking my workouts outdoors I love the cooler weather ot run at the park Report
Great blog Report
i find myself walking alot more lately, the temps are much cooler and it gives me a rush to be out in the cool crisp morning air.
i love also just sitting outside on my porch in the late evenings relaxing and looking at the beautiful fall colors all around me. Report
I love the Fall, and I almost dread the holidays that follow because my children are too far to visit. I love stews, and winter squashes, and taking those out-of-doors walks. Dh and I are polar opposites, so I have to be more creative in my habits. 8-) Report
Fall is by far my favorite season but i'm so sad because I'm in the south for now so there is no beautiful fall foliage like back home :( but at least i can do what i can to experience it, like eating everything pumpkin hah, maybe i'll try to decorate in a fall fashion around the apartment :D Report
Love the fall. I love to try to walk outdoors every day during my lunch break and I start to fill the freezer with pint containers of soups, stews and sauces. Report
I am definitely a hot weather person and have always hated winter. But last year I tried to embrace the season and get outside each and every day. I will try to do the same this year. Certainly it is easier to work out in the cooler weather. Report
I LOVE hiking in the fall. No more nasty mosquitos, not too hot, beautiful foliage, etc.
I'm 8 months pregnant, however, so no hiking in the cards for me right now. It is, however, football season. So we get to get outside and watch my step kids do their football / cheerleading practices and games. Report
This is very encouraging, but now that fall is almost over, can't wait to see the winter tips. Report
Fall is the best in the Midwest. Beautiful colors turn into crisp temperatures and sunny days. Raking leaves in preparation for the quiet domancy of snow. Hot chocolate and hot soup. Report
I really enjoyed reading this. It's made fall more appealing and exciting to me. Thanks!! :) Report
Seasons are screwy in Florida, but I find I automatically gather available produce to make a big crockpot of soup which is frozen in 2 cup containers. My choices for veggie for that soup are probably like those you all have in the summer, but I don't usually feel the need to make soup then, I continue as the soup is eaten to make crockpots throughout winter. I made my first pot the first week in November when we had two mornings with the thermometer reading 40 in the morning and 80 in the afternoon. I also like to roast winter squash. You can see all of the soup ingredients on my nutrition journal for 11/13. I ate it for lunch and supper. Lots of fiber.

The other thing I tend to do is roast trays and trays of veggies like carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, garlic, green beans, kale, beets, and also fruits like apples and pears.

I like to dehydrate but I tend to do that in spring and summer. I might need to fire up the dehydrator as my fall garden gets to harvest stage. Report
Thank you for the great post! I never knew that too much sleep was not good for you! I have some wacky weather here in Fiji but these tips are totally easy to add into my day :) Now to try those pumpkin & apple waffles! Report
You skipped one of the biggies...Christmas shopping! Power walk that mall with some heavy bags and feel the burn... Report
Autumn is my absolute favorite season. I love the start of the holiday planning; it can be very comforting just knowing that family will be around soon to catch up. I don't usually tend to switch up our dinner menus at home, but soups and chili are a great idea. #3 is the best to me - waking up and not feeling as tired is good. I do admit I am still trying to get into this rhythm. Report
Great blog! Report
Thank you for an inspiring article. I love Fall! Report
I hate the fall because it gets dark so early. Report
Fall is my favorite season ^-^
It's so lovely.
You can go outside to workout, and not overheat :D. Report
Fall is my favorite season. And what could be better exercise than raking leaves? I've always found raking leaves to be a great stress reliever. Report
I enjoy being outside walking in the fall. Don't like the darker nights at all. Chili is perfect on a cool fall night. I like to make my own Black Bean With Morning Star Crumbles And A Lot of Veggies! Thanks for all the ideas! :))) Report
All excellent ideas to help us adjust to a new season. Report
Fall? its WINTER here again!!! Report
Oh there it is. My bad! Report
Oh I did indeed leave a comment. WTH happened to it? Report
In PA, fall is this very brief period between the heat of summer and the brutal chill of winter. blink your eyes and it's gone. I appreciate getting more sleep but getting up early to work out (I already get up WAY too early) is totally out of the question for me. Give me summer any time! Report
Great blog! You've pointed out some of the best things about fall. I'm going to try your waffles this weekend. Thank you! Report
I appreciate all these! The one about sleep is especially true for me. Since the time has changed I've been tired and able to fall asleep an hour earlier than usual and hope it lasts. I also tend to really value my sleep time so it's nice that so far I'm getting a little extra sleep, waking up at the same time and not wanting to sleep too long yet... Thanks for the article and good luck everyone!!! Report