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10 Fun Ways to Get Fit for Fall

October 7, 2016

By Katrina H. Dunlap

If the leaves on trees change their hue, it must be fall. If the sun goes down earlier, it must be fall. If you are back in class brooding over the semester’s course load, it must be fall. While your schedule is filling up with classes, exam dates and term paper deadlines, factor in time to exercise.

Here are 10 helpful tips to incorporate into your daily routine while managing the rigors of academic life as a graduate/professional student and getting fit for fall.

1.       Goodbye Summer Heat. Hello Fall’s Falling Temperatures!

Say “goodbye” to summer’s sweltering heat and say “hello” to autumn’s cool crisp air! Outdoor exercises are more comfortable with lower temperatures. Whether you are in Fairfax, Arlington or Prince William, check out the local parks for camping, tennis and basketball courts and fitness trails and more! Do you prefer biking as a commuter option? BikeArlington has information on more than one hundred miles of multi-use trails, on-street bike lanes, and designated bike routes that make it easy for cyclists to get where they need to go. The Edge at Mason, located on the SciTech campus, offers challenging outdoor courses, trails, and climbing towers aimed to improve communication and build stronger relationships. This is a great opportunity to connect with other Mason students while exercising outdoors.

2.      Fall = Festivals

If it’s fall, you can expect to see many local festivals with a holiday theme. Enjoy a Halloween run or horseback riding with friends and family while burning some calories. Organize a weekend trip to the Graves’ Mountain Apple Harvest Festival to pick your own apples or check out other local festivals here. These fun-filled outdoor activities are sure to get your heart rate pumping!

3.      A.M. Exercise

A morning or daytime workout will guarantee that exercise happens, while allowing time in the afternoons and evenings for classes and social events. With the time changing and the sun setting earlier, it can feel as though it’s later in the day than it really is. This can make you more tired than usual. Try to eliminate any excuse you may have for skipping a morning workout by planning the night before. Have your gym bag packed or prepare your bike for a morning ride. Visit the RAC on Patriot Circle in Fairfax, the Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center on SciTech’s campus, or Arlington’s YMCA.

4.      Dress for the Season

Cooler weather is known to be a deterrent for people to exercise outdoors. Proper attire such as a wind-breaker, gloves and dressing in layers allows for warmth and a comfortable outdoor fitness experience. Dress warm!

5.      Stay Hydrated

Stay hydrated even when the temperature cools down. People often feel less thirsty when it is not hot outside, but staying hydrated is just as important in the fall as it is when the sun is blazing. Don’t take any chances with your health. Pick up your Mason water bottle at one of our campus bookstores before your workout.

6.      Limit the Sweets

Just say ‘No’ to those Halloween and holiday sweets. Chances are you are too old to trick-or-treat. Alternatively, try healthy snacks such as granola or energy bars to curb your appetite. Pack lunch, rather than eating out. You will save more money and keep those calories at bay.

7.      Clean House = Calorie Burn

If you are going to stay home, make the most out of cleaning. According to FitDay.com, you can burn 143 calories over 30 minutes of washing your vehicle or 125 calories by wiping down those dusty windows for the same amount of time. Find your favorite calorie-burning chore and make it count!

8.      Who’s Walking Wednesdays

Who’s Walking Wednesdays is a weekly free event for all Mason students, staff, and faculty. Join your Mason colleagues for a 30-minute campus walk every Wednesday at noon in Fairfax, Arlington, and SciTech. Become part of Mason’s Well-Being University initiative and exercise your leadership by volunteering to lead a walk!

9.      Namaste

According to the American Osteopathic Association, there are many physical benefits of yoga to include more flexibility, muscle strength and tone, improvement in respiration, energy and vitality, and protection from injury. If you are on the Arlington campus, take advantage of Yoga Tuesdays offered this fall in the Metropolitan Building, 5th floor, Room 5183 on Dec. 6th. For more information or to be added to the mailing list, contact Arlington Operations. If you are on the Fairfax campus, there are several opportunities to join a class. Drop in for yoga or Pilates classes at the RAC, the Johnson Center’s dance studio on the lower level, or Piedmont’s multi-purpose room. Check out the group fitness class schedule at SciTech’s Freedom Center.

10.   Eat your Fruits and Veggies

Incorporating vegetables into your diet helps to manage a healthy weight, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Additionally, proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. So the next time you are out grocery shopping, stop by the produce section for carrots, asparagus and broccoli. Your body depends on it!

Many studies have shown a direct correlation between academic success and fitness levels,[i][ii] so continue to keep up with your workout routine and take note of higher scores on exams. Consider these 10 tips to get fit for fall as a starting point and find what works best for you and your academic schedule. If you are interested in sharing your personal experience or success, please contact Katrina Dunlap, kdunlap5@gmu.edu, or Austin Deray, aderay@gmu.edu, to become a guest writer for the Mason Grad Insider.  We look forward to hearing from you!

[i] Coral Torrijos-Niño, Vicente Martínez-Vizcaíno, María Jesús Pardo-Guijarro, Jorge Cañete García-Prieto, Natalia María Arias-Palencia, Mairena Sánchez-López, “Physical Fitness, Obesity, and Academic Achievement in Schoolchildren,” The Journal of Pediatrics, 165, 1, 104-109, July 2014. ISSN 0022-3476, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.02.041.

[ii] Chomitz V, Slining M, McGowan R, Mitchell S, Dawson G, Hacker K. “Is There a Relationship Between Physical Fitness and Academic Achievement? Positive Results From Public School Children in the Northeastern United States,” Journal Of School Health, 79: 30–37. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00371.x

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