Staying fit during the fall has a nice ring to it, but it's a lot easier said than done. With the cooler weather keeping people inside and delicious but not especially nutritious holiday foods stocked in every grocery aisle, working out is never more important than in the fall, or more neglected.
According to statistics cited by Cardiac Care Group, one person in the United States dies every 40 seconds from heart disease or stroke. WebMD corroborates, pointing out deadly heart attack rates spike by 5 percent during the holiday season.
The reasons for this spike are a topic of much debate, but researchers agree poor eating habits, stress, lack of exercise and delay of treating symptoms all contribute.
You can't control all of your risk factors for heart disease, but you can get off the couch and out the door before this holiday season starts to keep your heart in tiptop shape. Here are some tips for staying fit this fall.
When it comes to working out, it can be easy to feel like you don't have time, especially in the busy fall months leading up to the holidays. The key is to make fitness a priority.
Every day you do things to maintain your health, including brushing your teeth, washing your hands and eating fruits and vegetables. Physical activity should be another part of your daily routine. Make a point of setting aside 30 minutes each day for a brisk walk. Change up where you go each time to break up the monotony or try something new, like a dance class or swimming at a local pool. The main idea is to get your heart pumping, which helps strengthen it over time.
Make S.M.A.R.T. goals
What do you want to accomplish with your physical activity this fall? It can help to have a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based goal (also known as S.M.A.R.T. goal). Here's an example of how this would work:
Goal - I will go walking five days a week during the fall.
Specific - I will walk 1 mile per day during the first month, 2 miles per day during the second month, and 3 miles per day during the third month.
Attainable - I will make my walk part of my daily routine and prioritize it over less important activities.
Relevant - I will tell friends and family about my goal and challenge them to set goals. This way we can hold each other accountable.
Time-based - By the end of the third month, I want to be walking or running about 15 miles each week.
You can make S.M.A.R.T. goals for maintaining a healthy diet, managing stress and scheduling regular doctor appointments, as well.
Plan for inclement weather
The problem with working out in the fall is the variability in the weather. To keep Mother Nature from derailing your fitness goals, have other exercise ideas on the back burner that you can do indoors. Ideas for this might include getting a membership at a local gym, investing in exercise equipment for your home or following along with workout videos.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
Don't compare your level of fitness with the lady next door who has been running marathons for years. Focus on improving your fitness. Keep track of your times and try to beat your personal bests. If running or walking hurts your knees, choose a low-impact form of exercise like swimming or stretching.
Before starting any new exercise regime, it's important to speak with a physician to make sure you're healthy enough for strenuous physical activity. If you are at risk for heart disease or have been experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath not related to exercise, your doctor may order an EKG or a stress test to assess your heart's health.
Contact Cardiac Care Group today to learn more about how to stay fit and healthy this fall. You can also make an appointment with one of their qualified physicians to make sure your heart is healthy enough for exercise.