Crisp air, beautiful multicolored leaves, and a full calendar of classic activities, fall can be one of the greatest seasons. But with cooler weather comes a host of obligations as well – school fundraisers, sports and other extracurricular activities, it may feel like there is less time to exercise to meet your fitness goals. However, there are plenty of opportunities to boost your calorie burn or increase your cardiovascular activity without missing out on those precious opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends or failing to meet your obligations.
- Volunteer – If your children are involved in fall activities like soccer, football or the marching band, become a volunteer parent. Offer to assist with moving the instruments and props onto the field at halftime, sell 50/50 raffle tickets, or be the team/activity’s photographer. It will keep you moving on your feet without sacrificing the ability to watch your child participate. Your step count will be higher than if you were sitting in the stands and you may just end up with a front row seat to the action!
- Pumpkin or Apple Picking – Take the kids, your significant other or gather your friends for pumpkin and apple picking. Skip the hayride and walk out to the fields to increase your steps, time on foot, and calorie burn. As you reach, twist, stretch and pick your haul, it likes a yoga workout on foot! As a bonus, you will plenty of apples and pumpkins to make healthy, homemade goodies.
- Get Lost in a Corn Maze – With navigation apps constantly at our fingertips, this might put you out of your comfort zone! But chasing your children or a significant other through a maze is another way to burn some extra calories on a lazy Sunday. Find a tough one in your area or added it to a day of pumpkin or apple picking, and you can easily reach 10,000 steps.
- Fall Foliage Hikes – If the changing leaves are one of your favorite aspects of fall, take it all in on a hike or a long walk in your own neighborhood. Varying the terrain and length will mix up the hike each weekend and the harder the terrain or more areas of incline, the more calories you will burn.
- Horseback, Mountain Biking, or a Bike Ride – The crisp air offers the perfect opportunity to go horseback riding or biking. Take a lazy stroll or ride and soak in all that nature has to offer as the fall foliage blooms in full. Again, the terrain and length of the ride will determine calories burned, but when you are enjoying nature, the burn is just a bonus!
- Rake the Leaves – There is plenty of yardwork to be had in the fall and while it may not be a “fun fall activity” it is an opportunity to boost your calorie burn while getting a great arm and core workout. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 155-pound person will burn approximately 149 calories an hour. Rake the leaves into a pile, grab your children or a date and have fun running and leaping into the pile! Repeat until everyone is ready for a nap during the football game.
- Chopping Wood – This is another activity that might not make on the list of fun chores, but it is a full body workout burning nearly 230 calories in only 30 minutes! (Source: MyFitnessPal) Getting your workout in early allows you to enjoy the crisp fall air in the evenings roasting marshmallows.
- Find a 5K – There is practically a 5K every weekend in the fall. Find one at a local farm, vineyard, or brewery to make it a full day of fall fun. Register for a 5K with a group of friends to go right to a no shower happy hour or have your children cheer you on modeling healthy habits for them. Either way, you will check your workout off the daily to do list while enjoying the fall weather and engaging in fall activities after. If you live in the Philadelphia tri-state area, you can search for races on the Race Mob website.
- Kayaking or Canoeing – This is another great way to enjoy the fall foliage and be outside before temperatures fall too low. And according to the American Council of Exercise, a 150-pound person can torch as many as 340 calories per hour! Find a different lake or river to explore every weekend to mix up your workouts.
- Trick or Treating – Even if you don’t have children of your own, you can head out with friends or family for this fall favorite. While a leisurely walk will only burn about 150 calories an hour (Source: MyFitnessPal), it’s still more than sitting on the front porch and handing out candy. And with the added bonus of spending time with loved ones, it’s good for the heart!
While it’s tempting to spend these cooler days snuggled on the couch watching football or a classic Hallmark movie, getting outside to enjoy the beautiful weather will leave you with no regrets. No matter what activity you choose, enjoying the fall outdoors will help keep your exercise goals on track while making memories. And the added activity and fresh air is good for your mental health as well as helping you sleep better. Pick one to add to the calendar today!
Written by Kelly Reising who is passionate about nutrition, fitness and health.
Dr. Mc Millan is a Board-Certified orthopedic sports medicine surgeon practicing in the Virtua Health System of south Jersey. For more information please visit www.drseanmcmillan.com or follow us on twitter @sportsdrsean.