Autumn is here! Finally, we get a break from the blistering existence we lovingly call the Louisiana summer. With the new season comes a whole new crop of activities that many of us put off during the dog days of …. well, you get where we’re going with this, right? As with any fitness regimen, remember to build your routine gradually (for example, Day 1 shouldn’t be a two hour walk), hydrate adequately and wear the right shoes. 

Walking. A great way to jumpstart the morning or unwind after a long day, walking is beneficial for heart and bone health, balance and endurance. Try to take different routes from time to time to keep it interesting. If you have a dog, grab a leash and get moving together. You’ll both benefit from the fresh air and change of scenery. Just remember to bring a few (ahem) bags with you for your furry friend.

Hiking. Not to be confused with conventional walking, hiking kicks it up a notch as it typically occurs on natural surfaces that can have uneven footing as well as inclines and declines. Bring a buddy (and a fully charged phone) if you’re concerned about being alone in a remote area. Bonus: Getting your nature on helps to eliminate distractions and clear your mind lowering your blood pressure and stress levels.

Running. Now that the weather is pleasant, step off the indoor treadmill and into the great outdoors. An aerobic exercise that releases endorphins (hormones that relieve stress and pain) into the blood stream, running is the perfect pick-me-up activity. As the temperature drops over the next few months, try to dress in layers so you can peel them off as needed. Always stretch before and after every run to avoid injury or strain. 

Biking. Offering a full body workout, biking is a great strengthening exercise with less intensity applied to the back and knees. If you listen to music during your workout, use caution and don’t raise the volume to a level that drowns out your surroundings. When moving at high speeds, you need time to act and react to external situations to prevent accidents. Speaking of which … don’t forget your helmet!

Raking. Who says a chore can’t also provide a little exercise? Raking helps build strength in the core, upper body, back and stomach. (AARP) Proper technique includes standing with your feet hip distance apart with one hand near the end of the handle and the other three-quarters of the way down. Every few minutes, change sides so all muscles get the same workout and rake in the benefits. (Yes, we went there.

Pumpkin eating. Lattes, bread, soup, pasta sauce, smoothies, cookies, cake … there are endless ways to consume this glorious gourd. So many that we decided to make it an activity. After all, pumpkins are loaded with fiber and heart-healthy nutrients including the antioxidant beta-carotene and vitamins A, B1, B6, C, copper, folate and manganese. (WebMD) Just remember to lift with your legs when toting that hefty delicacy! 

Happy Fall, Y’all!

Michele Robert Poche