For a lot of people, our motivation wanes as the cold weather creeps in – exercising outdoors is particularly challenging, and trudging to the gym seems like a chore. But winter doesn't mean the end of working out! In fact, it's still important to catch some rays when you can to get your vitamin D and stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here are some great calorie-busting, muscle-building, fun outdoor winter activities to get a workout and some fresh air and sun:
- If you have kids and live in an area where it snows, sledding is the perfect exercise! Not only is it incredibly exhilarating to race down a hill at wild speeds, but it's also an excellent workout – once you get to the bottom, you have to hike up to the top to catch your thrills again.
- Even residents of Los Angeles and other warm places can enjoy ice skating at an artificial rink. Ice skating is the quintessential winter activity no matter where you live, and since it's an aerobic exercise, it's also a fabulous workout. Depending on how much you weigh, just one hour of recreational ice skating can burn between 250 and 810 calories. It's a great activity to tone your quadriceps and hamstrings, and ice skating requires the use of your abdominal and lower back muscles to keep your balance – strengthening these muscles will help you in other activities like yoga.
- Go snow boarding. Snow boarding requires supreme balance and core strength to not only stay upright on the board but successfully navigate down a hill. Plus, you're burning up to 500 calories per hour! Even taking beginners' lessons can be a great workout.
- If you live in a flatter area, try cross-country skiing. It's a total body workout – it strengthens the core and tones the arms. You can burn around 570 calories per hour cross-country skiing.
- Of all winter sports, snowshoeing has one of the biggest payoffs! You can burn up to 700 calories per hour during your snowy trek.
- Simply taking a brisk walk in the snow is also a great idea. You'll have to move quickly to keep your body warm, and keeping your balance on the ice and snow is more of a workout than taking a walk in better weather.
If you're training for a fall 5k or half marathon, you're easing back into running after a summer hiatus or you're hitting the gym to lift, now's the time to start building your fabulous fall playlist. Here are some of our best songs and why we think they are perfect for autumn:
Warm up/Cool down
- "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5 (88 bpm) – This song is so cozy that it wraps you in an embrace reminiscent of chunky sweaters, warm apple pies and hot cocoa.
- "Brave" by Sarah Bareilles or "Roar" by Katy Perry (both 92 bpm) – Both songs are about standing up and making a change – fall is a change of seasons, so we think that works out pretty well.
- "Enchanted" by Taylor Swift (82 bpm) – "Enchanted" is for when you're seriously taking it slow, but that's OK! It's the perfect jam for a warm up or cool down jog as you pass by the enchanting fall foliage.
- "Don't Wake Me Up" by Chris Brown (128 bpm) – It's the tune you'll be singing when your covers are warm and outside the safe confines of your bed the air is chill.
- "Wake Me Up" by Avicii (124 bpm) – It's the opposite of the above song, but this end-of-summer hit is really catchy and a great fall tune as well.
- "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson (116 bpm) – Though fall weather is lovely, this song will prepare you for the cooler wintry days to come, which could be downright brutal if you're exercising outside!
- "Cinema" by Benny Benassi – the Skirllex remix (144 bpm) – This song is just pure fun with an upbeat vibe. It's perfect to keep you motivated at the peak of your workout in the fall.
Fall is a great time to get out and have some family fun in the crisp air. Also, it's a time to look forward to some of the year's best holidays. Here are some great ideas for fall activities that both parents and kids will enjoy:
- Run a 5k that also has a children's fun run. It's a great way to bond, get some exercise and practice sportsmanship. Plus, autumn weather is a runner's dream!
- Go to a local farm for warm apple cider, pumpkin picking and a jaunt through the corn maze.
- Take the kids apple-picking and then bake a pie or crisp together using the fruits you've picked.
- Have the kids help rake the leaves – great exercise – and then make big piles that they can jump and play in. Don't forget to take pictures!
- Organize a neighborhood game of soccer, kickball or flag football with other families. It can even be a kids versus adults game.
- Bike to a local park for a family game of Frisbee, tag or catch.
- If Halloween is a big deal at your house, make it a spooky wonderland in preparation for the trick-or-treaters with spider webs, tombstones and other frightening decor.
- Organize a Halloween parade for all of the neighborhood families.
- Take a bike ride or walk through a local forest preserve and have a scavenger hunt, which you can organize ahead of time. Have the kids look for certain leaves and little critters.
- Head to a fall farmers market and have the kids help pick out ingredients for that night's dinner. You can cook together later, and turn up some music to make it less of a chore and more of a dance party.
- Be brave and check out a haunted house together!
Autumn brings beautiful foliage, pumpkin-flavored treats and Halloween shenanigans. But with the crisp leaves and tasty snacks also comes the first hints of cold weather. If you're an avid runner, hiker or otherwise outdoor exerciser, you'll have to switch out the spandex shorts and cute tanks for cold weather gear. If you're a long-distance runner, you probably delight in hopping off the treadmill you retreated to during the blazing summer and returning to the cooler temps, which typically allow you to breathe better. So if you're excited to get out, make sure to be prepared with these fall and winter gear essentials:
- A lightweight wind jacket is perfect for days where you want a little protection from the wind, but when it's too warm to have anything but minimal lining. Double up by purchasing a waterproof jacket that can keep you dry in the rain. These jackets are great because they're breathable.
- Since it stays darker longer in the fall months, if you run outside early in the morning or right after work it's likely that it will be dark during some point of your run. Keep yourself safe from cars and bikes by wearing reflective arm bands – they're less dorky than a head lamp (and potentially less blinding for others on the road) but still alert others to your presence in the dark.
- It's a great idea to purchase a fleece-lined compression long-sleeved top and leggings, which shouldn't be skin tight but should fit fairly close to your body. Compression gear absorbs moisture from the skin, which is very important to keep you warm in a cold environment.
- On days where you need a little more than a base layer but you want to breathe a bit, you can wear a thermal vest. For a bonus, purchase a soft shell jacket with a zip-out vest so you can have layering options.
- Warm socks are a must because if you're feet aren't warm, it can be pretty painful and distracting and lead to an unproductive workout. Purchase 100 percent cotton socks to stay warm in winter, or even wool.
- Buy gloves or mittens formulated specifically for running.
- Don't forget a warm, close-fitting hat, preferably fleece-lined! Our heads loose body faster than any other part of the body, so it's important to keep them covered. If it's not quite that cold, try a soft, lightweight headband to protect your ears from the wind.
It seems like Americans have only recently caught on to the benefits of soy and the various forms of soy protein, ranging from tempeh to roasted soybeans to soy protein powder. But in Asian countries, soybeans have been a dietary staple for more than 5,000 years, which is where the technique of fermenting the beans for miso, tempeh and tofu was developed. It wasn't until the 1700s that soy was first introduced in Europe, and then in the 1800s it was introduced in the U.S. The first mass cultivation of soybeans in the U.S. began during World War II, and today, the Midwest produces half of the world's soybean crops.
Health benefits of soy protein
Soy has many health benefits. It's high in fiber, which has been shown to be heart healthy because it sticks to cholesterol and keeps it from clogging the arteries. Additionally, soy is unique because unlike animal proteins, it combines the benefits of high fiber and high protein in one small package. Also, soy contains the essential amino acids that are vital for heart and all-around health.
Soy protein shakes
An easy way to incorporate soy into your diet for an on-the-go boost is to make delicious soy protein shakes using Naturade Total Soy Protein in Chocolate or vanilla. Simply mix 2 scoops of the Naturade protein powder with cold water or your favorite beverage, shake or mix it until smooth and you're ready to go, you can also use it as a meal replacement for weight loss. You can also blend Naturade's soy protein into a shake with fruit, oatmeal and other healthy ingredients.
Much research has shown that omega-3s are an essential nutrient for various body systems. Omega-3s are important for heart health because they can reduce the bad cholesterol in the body and lower bad fats called triglycerides. Other research has established that these essential fats can improve joint health by reducing inflammation throughout the body, which is especially important for our bodies as we age. Finally, omega-3s can improve cognition, learning and memory in both adults and children. Thus, it's vital that we try to include omega-3s in our daily diets because they aren't produced naturally by our bodies. Here are foods packed with this important fatty acid:
- Various fish and seafood are great sources of omega-3s, including rainbow trout, wild salmon, canned albacore tuna, scallops, crab, cod and the small but mighty sardines and anchovies, both of which are also excellent sustainable options. However, when choosing fish for your diet, it's important to do some research first and balance the need for omega-3s with the fact that some fish could be high in mercury, which is especially dangerous for pregnant women.
- Ground flax seed is another great omega-3 source. Add it to your morning smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal and even at dinner in pastas. Its subtle, nutty flavor will be easy to incorporate into many dishes, and it add a major kick of heart-healthy fatty acids to boot.
- Walnuts are another good source. Eat a handful for a snack, add crushed walnuts to a salad or even top your oatmeal with them. They're also packed with protein.
- Cook with soy or canola oil, or use them in your salad dressings.
It's recommended that everyone eat one omega-rich food per day, but if you have food allergies or can't for other reasons, there are more ways to get omega-3s in your foods. Try enriched eggs, available at most grocery stores, or a fish oil supplement.
When you're trying to build muscle, it's important to do it right so you'll see results and not get discouraged, especially if it's the first time you've set off on this type of fitness endeavor. The best foods are those high in protein and low in fat, because protein is the main macronutrient that builds muscle mass. Here are some of the top foods to include in your diet for building muscle:
- Eggs: These small but mighty spherical wonders are a powerhouse of nutrition. The whites are low in fat and very high in protein, which is why so many people are a fan of straight egg white omelets. But don't discount the yolks! They contain vitamins D, B6 and B12, E, folate, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin and zinc, and they also contain plenty of protein. Calorie for calorie, eggs have the highest biological value when it comes to protein intake, making them a true, underrated superfood.
- Salmon: Not only is this lean fish a great protein machine, it also improves heart health with omega-3 fatty acids. These are also important because they improve your recovery time after a major workout by decreasing the muscle-protein breakdown that occurs. Omega-3s have been shown to potentially reduce fat accumulation as well.
- Quinoa: This super grain has had a drastic rise in the popularity in the fitness community in the past few years, and for good reason. Quinoa contains essential amino acids and complex carbs, which give you sustainable energy to make it through an intense workout. The high fiber content in this nutritious grain is a great fat-buster.
- Yogurt: You'll find an excellent combination of protein and carbs here. It's not necessary to eat plain yogurt either. However, you also don't want to buy yogurt that has too much added sugar, but the types with fruit on the bottom provide a good boost of energy from insulin to keep a protein breakdown from occurring after you work out. Pack in the protein – nearly 20 grams – with Greek yogurt.
- Almonds: These crunchy nuts contain plenty of alpha-tocopherol, or vitamin E, which is an antioxidant believed to prevent free-radical damage and thus promote muscle healing. Grab a handful for an easy, high-protein snack.
- Water: Drinking enough water for muscle growth should be a no-brainer. Water keeps the entire body healthy and functioning properly.
Sometimes, the best kind of exercise happens when you don't even know you're getting a workout. Autumn is an excellent time for some of these "hidden" workouts, because there's typically plenty of yard work and maintenance things to do around your home.
Raking leaves is just one of these hidden exercises. Why? When you rake leaves, aside from filling your lungs with fresh air, you will also work the major muscle groups in your back, shoulders, arms and legs, as well as improving your cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate. In just 30 minutes of raking leaves, you can burn around 150 calories! Just thirty minutes of raking and squatting to scoop the leaves up and transport them fits into the CDC's recommended daily exercise for adults of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
However, you probably don't have enough leaves to rake your yard every day, so here are some other ideas for an outdoor, maintenance workout:
- Fertilize your lawn – using an aerator requires a lot of upper body strength and can help you work up a real sweat!
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, chop wood and then carry and stack it. This involves aerobic exercise, squatting, bending and it also works your shoulders, back and arms. In 30 minutes of chopping, you can burn more than 200 calories!
- If you live in an area where year-round lawn maintenance is a must (for example, there's no snow on the ground), then you can get some good exercise by mowing your lawn with a push mower rather than the riding variety.
- If your home is in a snowy area, break out the shovel and snow blower. Shoveling can burn a whopping 225 calories in 30 minutes, while pushing a snow blower for 30 minutes uses more than 150 calories.
- Climb a ladder and clean out the leaf-clogged gutters, which will take core energy to stay balanced while you work with your hands.
For some of us, exercising is the cherry on top of an already wonderful day, or the thing that makes a bad day good. For others, working out just feels like another task added to an already busy day. Maybe you'd rather be spending precious hours with your kids, spouse or other family members, or perhaps they could all use a bit of exercise too. Get everyone off of the couch and make it more fun with these family-friendly workout ideas:
- If the weather isn't optimal, do a fitness DVD together, which will likely be entertaining and prove to be a good work out.
- Turn on some music and clean the house together, which will burn a lot of calories between dancing and scrubbing the floor. You will also be doing three important things at once: keeping the house clean, getting some exercise and spending time with family.
- Train for a race together. Sponsored walks, half-marathons and various fun-runs are all the rage right now, and they often have shorter distance events for kids. Choose a race or walk for a good cause and train with your kids and spouse to get some quality family time.
- Head to a new public park that you've never visited before. Spend the day walking and exploring together.
- Celebrate special days like birthdays or holidays off from school with fun physical activities. You can bike together to get frozen yogurt or head to a local wilderness site for camping, hiking and connecting with nature.
- Visit a working farm together. As we become more urbanized as a country, we are less connected to where our food comes from. Many farm owners are trying to remedy this and get a little help by offering opportunities to work on a farm for a day. You and your kids can volunteer your services – cleaning up, pulling weeds, caring for animals or working in the garden - and also learn more about our food system. You'll burn some serious calories from all the walking and working, and your kids will learn respect for animals and nature.
- Organize a neighborhood-wide or extended family sporting event like a soccer, softball or kickball game. This will be a lot of fun for everyone and you'll hardly know you're getting a workout!
Ask yourself these three questions:
Are you having trouble getting motivated to get your health and fitness under control?
Are you easily bored with just doing the same old thing over and over and over and over?
Do you want to start training for fun but have the chance to do more over time as you progress?
If you answered yes to these then I have a simple solution, Triathlon.
Q.) What is triathlon?
A.) A triathlon is a race that combines swim, bike, and run (in that order) to allow you to work the whole body, get a mental challenge in the water, feel speed on the bike, and obtain the glory of finishing a hard run and crossing the finish line.
Q.) Ok Dustin, but that’s too hard! I can’t train for those super long races. Don’t those people stay out there for like 17 hours? Isn’t that the Ironman?
A.) Great question and you will love the answer. Actually, Triathlon comes in TONS of distances. There are Sprints, Olympic, Half Ironman, and Full Ironman. I will break them down below.
Sprint Distance Triathlon – 1/2 mile swim, 12-14 mile bike, 5k run (3.1 miles)
Olympic Distance Triathlon – 1500 meter swim (.93 miles), 40k bike (24.85 miles), 10k run (6.21 miles)
Half Ironman Distance Triathlon – 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
Full Ironman Distance Triathlon – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 run
Q.) Why should I pick Triathlon?
A.) You will never be bored. When you are bored with swimming, you can bike, and when you are bored with the bike, you run, and when you get bored of the run, you swim! It’s a great thing! I love training for triathlon because it keeps my whole body trained, it keeps me mentally stimulated and excited about learning all three disciplines to the best of my ability. Triathlon has become such an important part of my life. Since there are so many distances to race I never get bored and I can always challenge myself to do more. Also, since you are training swim, bike, and run you can participate in solo events of all kinds. If there is a 5k, 13.1, 26.2 race then jump in! A 25, 50, 100 mile bike tour? Go ahead and ride! An open water swim? Have at it! If you only run then you can only do races involving running. This gives you unlimited training, racing, and FUN opportunities!
Q.) Ok, This sounds cool… But how can I afford all this stuff? Won’t I need to buy a TON of stuff just to train?
A.) Yes, you need stuff but NO it won’t cost you an arm and a leg… You need a bike (any kind will do for starters.. Mountain, Road, Hybrid, etc), goggles, a pool or any body of water, bathing suit, running shorts, and some running shoes. That’s it! Keep it simple at first until you start learning about the sport. I am a 2X Ironman Triathlete and I still use an old road bike that I traded some junk for on craigslist, it’s a $175 bike. Yes, people spend a lot of money on expensive race stuff but you don’t have to get that stuff to do these races. Use the K.I.S.S method, Keep It Simple Stupid! This method saves you money, time, and if you keep it all simple you won’t over think things. It’s a swim, a bike, and a run, that’s it!
Q.) This sounds like it’s going to take up a TON of my time… I don’t think I can commit to that kind of grueling schedule.
A.) Whoa, hold on there cowboy! Who said you had to commit to ANY schedule. Even if you do ONE swim, ONE bike, and ONE run per week it’s probably WAY more than you are doing right now. So don’t worry about putting together a crazy schedule that you cannot stay with. Remember, you are trying to change your lifestyle, have fun, and get your health and fitness in check. Don’t over do it!! Too far, too fast, too much, too soon = Injury. I would rather you take it nice and easy and keep it FUN!!! Ideally you want to do 2 swims per week, 2 bike rides per week, and 2 runs per week. I don’t care what distances you cover at first, just get out there and get moving
Have more question? Let’s get you outside and moving. As a Team Naturade Athlete I am here to answer your questions FREE anytime. Just contact me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Cheers and Happy Training!
I’m Dustin, and this is my son Boston… First, I’m a dad before anything else, after that I’m a 31 year old vegan expatriate Hoosier living right outside of New Orleans, LA.
On June 12th, 2011 I had a bit of a wake up call and began my road to the ironman 140.6 mile endurance event and after that I’ve got some big plans, so it won’t end there… This is my outlet to vent, rant, promote, and let everyone know what’s up.