When it comes to getting serious about exercise, most people think of January 1st as the only window you have to hit “reset” on your healthy routine. But the truth is, the beginning of fall is another great time to either recommit to fitness goals or set new ones. Think about it: from the time you’re a kid, the start of autumn signals a transition from the frenetic excitement and busyness of summer to a more focused energy. Whether you have little ones you’re sending back to school or not, you can still harness those “back to school” vibes to refocus your energy and get back to you. Are you ready to tackle fall fitness like a pro? We’re here to help. From setting achievable fitness milestones to making healthy fall meals and everything in between, here is your comprehensive guide to fall fitness.
How To Start A Fall Fitness Routine You’ll Actually Stick To
Fall provides a unique opportunity to set a routine that can carry you through the holidays and into the new year. Late fall and winter usually provide plenty of tempting reasons to stay inside—shorter, darker days and holiday treats everywhere—but that’s why getting some momentum before that time period is crucial. Think of it like running up a big hill: if you pick up your speed before you approach it, getting up the hill is less of a drag.
The holiday season through New Year’s is your hill: it can be a challenging time for people to stick to healthy habits. You are doing yourself a favor by choosing to start a fitness plan now, instead of attempting to start from scratch after Thanksgiving when you notice you’ve been more sedentary and extra servings of dessert are starting to become the norm. Now is the time; you’re making an awesome choice just by getting your mind around this concept. Here are other steps to crushing your fall fitness game:
Find Your “WHY”
Fall is a time of harvest; to reap what you’ve sown. What do you want to reap during this season? Sit down with a pen and paper and get ready to dig deep. We always talk about connecting your fitness goals to your “why”—in other words, what is your real motivation for wanting to get healthy? Think big. Maybe you want to lose weight, but what’s motivating you? It could be to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, or to live longer for your grandkids. If you say you want to set a goal of trying new workouts, why is that? Maybe it’s to have more energy and get stronger. Start digging deep to understand the bigger picture of what you want to achieve and how you want to feel.
Set Tangible Milestones + Support Methods
Next, drilldown from those larger goals to find specific, tangible milestones you can track throughout your fall fitness journey. If your goal is to challenge yourself with new workouts and your bigger “why” is to feel more energetic and strong, pick milestones and support methods that align with the whole picture.
Maybe you’ll promise to try a new workout each week. Or perhaps you’ll challenge yourself to master an exercise in three weeks that you can’t currently perform. Write this down. Also write down other ways to help you feel more energized along your journey. Consider these support methods—they’re going to help set you up for success. They could be getting enough sleep to let your muscles recover, eating smaller meals throughout the day to feed your muscles and keep your blood sugar constant, or other ideas. Get the picture?
Goal: Try new workouts to challenge my body
WHY? To have more energy + feel stronger
- Tangible milestones:
Incorporate one new workout into each week
To be able to do 15 burpees
- Support methods: Will get enough sleep and eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep me energized and support muscle recovery
Goal: Run more.
WHY? Cardio makes me feel good and helps me lose weight
- Tangible milestones:
Run 2x per week
Sign up for a 5k this winter
- Support methods: Will increase my mileage in a reasonable manner over the next few months. Will supplement with other forms of cardio + strength to give my body variety and keep burning calories.
Write it all down. These tangible, detailed milestones and proactive support methods are setting you up for success right this very minute.
Fill in the Blanks
Next, fill in the blanks. Fill out a blank calendar with the specific days you’re going to work out over the next few weeks and what you’re going to do. When those weeks are up, plan the next few weeks. You’ve planned your work and now it’s time to work your plan. Whether you have a blank calendar, planner, phone calendar, or other agenda: get activities scheduled on specific days—and times if possible. Scheduling your workouts like you would appointments helps you get back into the habit of working out.
Of course you want to continue to work out and stay fit for months and years to come, but for right now it’s crucial to be stay focused and overly goal-oriented. As time goes on, working out will become more automatic and non-negotiable in your week, but for getting back in gear, this is the best approach.
Find An Accountability Partner
Finding a friend to start a new fitness routine with is ideal. Let’s face it: you’re more likely to stick with something when someone else is counting on you to show up. See if there’s someone in your life you can enlist to meet at least once a week and have a set day, time, and activity. The rest of the week, you can work out independently or however you choose, but having this set plan each week will help keep you on track. Maybe it’s a bike ride every Sunday, or a yoga class Tuesday nights.
Even if you can’t find someone to physically work out with you, you can still benefit from telling someone about your plans. Whether it’s your spouse, sibling, friend, coworker: verbalizing your new fall fitness goals will help keep you accountable. It’s harder to abandon your goals once you’ve made them public, and the support helps too. (Psst: also keep yourself accountable by not filling your pantry with foods that you know will easily derail you!)
Make Sure You Have The Right Gear
Depending on where you live (and what the weather has in store), you may need to start layering up. Use the onset of fall as a time to assess your current fitness gear. Do you have what you need to carry on the routine you start now into the winter? It can be so easy to start a fall fitness routine that involves outdoor exercise like running just to abandon it when the first frost hits. Don’t let that happen to you! Stock up on a few key pieces you can layer from now through the end of winter so your fall fitness routine is excuse-proof:
- Light long-sleeve shirt, preferably moisture-wicking
- A vest/shell to layer with
- Light coat that fits snugly but which you can still layer things beneath
Also take stock of any gear you’ll need for your home gym. (Here’s our guide to the best home gym equipment under $40.)
Make seasonal food choices that support your new exercise habits
You can exercise all you want, but you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. One of the best things about setting new healthy intentions in the fall is that there are so many healthy fruits and veggies in season. Plus, now is a great time to get back into meal-prepping and planning ahead for healthy meals.
Stock up on all the amazing fruits and veggies that this time of year has to offer. Not only are they abundant and extra tasty right now, but they’re more affordable when bought in season, too. Incorporate the following into your meals at this time to gain extra nutritional benefits and save a little cash, too:
- Sweet potatoes/squash
- Brussels Sprouts
5 Simple, Healthy Fall Recipes:
If you want to put some of that fresh produce to use right away, we’ve got you covered. Aside from meal-prepping at the beginning of the week to make healthy eating easier, here are five fall recipes to have on hand when you’re in a pinch.
This soul-nourishing soup is packed with flavor and gets an extra dose of fall nutrition thanks to some added veggies and a bit of pumpkin.
This salad boasts plenty of flavor, texture, and deliciousness for any time of year—but the apples and brussels sprouts take center stage come autumn.
Butternut squash lends for a mouth-watering pasta substitute and pairs nicely with red sauce, chicken, and roasted red peppers.
This hearty and healthy salad can serve as a side, or add protein to make a deliciously well-rounded meal.
Packed with veggies and immune-boosting spices, this curry is the perfect recipe for chilly fall nights when you want healthy comfort food.
No matter how nutritiously you eat, you might also consider adding additional supplements during the fall to help your body stay healthy. In the fall and winter months, the days get shorter and we all get less sunshine, and consequently, less Vitamin D. Plus, during the cooler months people are more prone to getting colds. For this reason, consider stocking up on supplements like Vitamin D and Vitamin C; they can help keep you on track as you start this new healthy routine.
The Best Workouts To Kickstart Your Fall Fitness Goals
Depending on where you live, once winter hits you may not be able to enjoy your outdoor workouts as much, so definitely soak them up while you can. But on that same note, start incorporating indoor workouts into your routine now, too. Why? If you’re only running outside this fall, you don’t want to get discouraged when winter comes and snow or sleet makes those runs harder to achieve.
Some of our favorite outdoor workouts include biking, running and hiking, playing tennis, swimming, or even running stairs and taking bodyweight workouts outside. As for your indoor workouts, we’ve got you covered there, too. We have tons of at-home, indoor workouts to do all season long; here are some of our favorites:
- 30-Minute Full Body Workout You Can Do At Home
- Your At-Home Ab Workout
- 20-Minute Back to Basics Strength Workout
- 10-Minute AMRAP Workout to Torch Calories
- Low-Impact, High Results Workout
- Burn 300 Calories With This Bodyweight Workout
Again, it’s important to also start doing workouts that can be done inside so that you can keep up your fitness routine when the seasons change. There’s no shortage of workouts you can try here or on Get Healthy U TV. Still want a little more direction? Fill in that first week of workouts with our 1-week fall fitness challenge, then head to one of our other Get Healthy U challenges. They range from 1-4 weeks, and you can work through new ones all season long.
Even better: workout with us! Head to Get Healthy U TV and choose from a library of 200+ workout videos that you can do anytime, anywhere. Follow along as we tackle everything from strength and cardio to HIIT, kickboxing, yoga, and more. We have monthly challenges at GHU TV (like our 28-Day Fall Firm Up Trainer Challenge), too, that align to specific goals you may have this fall and beyond.
By this point, you have everything you need to jumpstart your fitness journey just as the leaves are turning. Get started now, and by the time January 1st rolls around, you’ll already be well-ahead of the resolution-makers and feeling fit. You’ll have made exercise and food habits that become a part of your lifestyle instead of unrealistic goals you set after new year’s and then quickly abandon. So here’s to starting a new fitness plan this fall: aside from cozy sweaters and Chai tea, it might just become your new favorite part of the season.