10 Unique Ways to Stay Active This Fall
When the weather gets cold, it can be hard to motivate yourself to leave the couch, and keep up all of your active habits from the summer months. Days are colder and nights come earlier, and it’s easy to give up on good habits formed during the bright, hot days of summer.
If you’re worried that you’re going to look more like a bear than a person at the end of the winter, you’ll need to start digging deep for motivation to exercise now, rather than later. Here are some great activities that you can do that won’t necessarily feel like a strenuous workout, and will help you stay active this fall.
1. Train for a marathon
Sometimes, it’s easier to motivate yourself to get out of the house when you have a goal in mind. Even if it’s a simple community 5K or fun run, signing yourself up for an organized run this fall will help motivate you to stick to a regular training schedule, which will help you achieve meaningful results that will only motivate you further. If you’re an experienced runner, you may want to challenge yourself further by signing up for a half or full marathon, depending on your ability. To get in the regular habit of running, all you need are good-quality running shoes, and enough cold-weather gear to ensure that you can handle the eventual drop in temperature.
2. Get out on the water
If you live near a body of water, you should take advantage of the sunny days of early fall to get out and go for a paddle. Whether you use a canoe or kayak, or get into a more intense sport like windsurfing, exercising on the water can feel more adventurous than just going for a run, and is a great way to take advantage of your natural environment. Paddling a canoe or kayak is a great workout for both your arms and core, and helps bring additional mental health benefits like reduced stress and lower levels of both depression and anxiety.
3. Pick your food
One of the most quintessential fall activities out there is visiting a pumpkin patch, or apple orchard, and spending a day picking your favorite foods. You’ll get a great workout from traversing the rough ground of the farm, plus if you choose to walk into the fields rather than taking a ride on a wagon or tractor, you’ll burn calories too. Before visiting a farm, you’ll need to check which produce they have ripe at the moment — most farms list this information on their website, or have a number that you can call. This handy map has a listing of all the pick-your-own farms in the USA, listed by state.
4. Go on a hike
Even if you live in the middle of a city, there are always local trails that you can join which will bring you out of the concrete and steel jungle and into a more natural environment. These trails often start in the suburbs, and head out into the wilderness. If you’ve got some time, and are looking for both exercise and fresh air this fall, going on a hike through some local trails is a great activity (plus, you’ll get to see all the pretty colors of the changing leaves)
A weekend afternoon is a perfect time to go on a longer excursion, but if you live close to the trails, you can probably fit in some shorter hikes during the week, depending on your schedule. For hiking, the only equipment you’ll need is a pair of hiking shoes — especially if you plan on hiking regularly, or visiting trails that are steep, rocky, or uneven.
5. Ride a bike
Regardless of where you live, biking outdoors can be a great form of physical activity that will help you get fit, and help you become more familiar with the area around your home. Cycling can help you burn calories, build muscle, and improve your lung and cardiovascular health. It’s also a low impact activity, which will help you avoid problem spots like your knees or ankles if you find that they’re susceptible to injury. If you’re nervous about getting started, you can look into joining a cycling club — in most major cities, there are groups that meet up regularly to cycle together, and can help you get to know popular local routes, as well as what equipment will work best for you.
6. Join an outdoor sports league
If you enjoy the social aspect of organized exercise classes, but want to get outside more, you should definitely give an organized outdoor sports league a try. Many urban and suburban community centers offer adults the opportunity to get involved in a variety of sports ranging from soccer to outdoor hockey, depending on the time of year. It’s a great way to motivate yourself to get out of the house at least once a week, and it’ll help you meet new people. If you’re not into traditional sports, you can try a more unique and fun activity like bubble soccer, or ultimate frisbee. There may be a minimal entry fee, but think of it as motivation to actually follow through until the end of the season.
7. Use playgroup equipment for a fun and challenging workout
Playground equipment isn’t just for kids anymore! Many community organizations and schools are hoping to help children become more athletic through the use of new playground equipment that’s made for both fun and exercise. If you’re looking to shake up your exercise routine this fall, take advantage of a local playground to try out a whole new workout. There are tons of ideas available online, but most of them make use of common playground structures like the monkey bars, swings, and Olympic rings. Even if your local playground is super basic, you can use the park benches to do a few triceps dips or step-ups, then finish up by doing a few laps around the park itself.
8. Tidy your yard for the winter months
Activities don’t have to feel like an exercise in order to be positive and healthy for our bodies. If you have any outdoor space, one of the best ways to get in a few afternoons of exercise every fall is by preparing your garden for the winter. Raking leaves is a great workout, and that’s just the beginning. Mowing your lawn shouldn’t stop when the temperatures drop — the shorter your grass is when the temperature changes, the less leaf there’ll be to turn brown in the cold. If you feel motivated, fertilize and aerate your lawn to ensure that it’ll be beautiful come spring, and fill in any bald spots. If you’ve got any outdoor furniture, fall is a great time to clean it off and put it into storage for the winter.
9. Take a new exercise class, or learn a new skill
Whether you sign up for a new exercise class at your local gym, or seek out a specialized school to learn to dance, sport, or other physical activity, all that matters is that you’re challenging yourself both physically and mentally. When we’re children, practicing sports and other physical skills help us to develop both emotionally and socially. Especially in a group setting, we’re learning to work as a team, read other’s body language, and cheer each other on. When we’re adults, we practice these skills on a regular basis at work, but it can be a great refresher to do it in a more fun, casual setting.
10. Walk your neighborhood dogs
Another way to take advantage of beautiful fall days is to take a dog for a walk. Even if you don’t have your own pup, you can borrow a friend or neighbor’s family pet, or sign up to volunteer at a local animal shelter. If you’re enterprising, you can even build it into a small business. It’s a great way to ensure that you get out of the house at least once a day, and research has shown that simply being around a dog can help lower our levels of cortisol, a critical stress hormone.
Pet ownership has also been associated with a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease.