We Love Fall Most of All! Fun Ways to Exercise This Autumn (Without Even Knowing It!)

October 11, 2023
A young couple wearing fall attire is walking with their arms locked on a path in the woods with their dog on a leash. They are surrounded by a colorful leaves in fall colors.

 

As temperatures begin to drop in many parts of the country, it can be tempting to cozy up and stay indoors while enjoying your favorite comfort foods. Fall offers a unique backdrop for exercise, with a drop in humidity and comfortable temperatures. It's the perfect time to embrace the outdoors with activities that can help you stay fit and work up a sweat. 

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that in a week, adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as walking briskly, pickleball, or doing yard work), 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity (like running, jumping rope, swimming laps and riding a bike), or a combination of both.

“Exercise is a natural mood lifter, keeps you physically fit and able, and helps you to live longer," said BayCare’s VP/Chief Quality Officer Dr. Laura Arline, MD, FACP, FAAP. "Combining exercise with the great outdoors is a perfect pairing for fall.”

But exercising doesn’t have to be a daunting task, especially when you can take advantage of the great outdoors in the fall months of September, October and November. So, get outside, breathe in the fresh air and take in some of these quintessentially fall activities. 

Go on a hike or walk along a guided nature trail. Enjoy the scenic views and make the most of the colorful fall foliage by hitting the trails for a leisurely (or intense) hike. Hiking can build endurance, improve balance and core strength, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce stress levels and even support overall mental health. Fitness challenges are one way to get the most out of your walk. By adding intervals, sprints or inclines, you can transform your evening stroll into a powerful workout. And don’t forget to take along your best friend and furry companion, as our favorite canines need a good workout, too! 

This year, Friday, Nov. 17 is “National Take a Hike Day” (also known as “National Hiking Day”), and the perfect time to grab your boots, some trail mix, a water bottle and some good company and head out to one of the more than 60,000 miles of trails across the nation. 

Go apple picking or visit a pumpkin patch. Did you know that being immersed in nature — and an orchard totally counts! — evokes positive emotions? Research has found that being in tree-lined environments reduces cortisol, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and helps enhance your parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to relax. Walking in the orchard to find the best apples or seeking out the perfect gourds will have you not only appreciating the outdoors but will also get your heart pumping! Plus, you can make whatever you bring home into tasty fall treats to enjoy after you’ve worked up a sweat, including hot spiced apple cider, apple pie for dessert, caramel apples for a snack, pumpkin pancakes for breakfast or roasted pumpkins as part of your evening’s dinner menu. “Fall foods are typically high in vitamin C and fiber, helping to boost our immune system and keep us full during the colder months," added Arline.

Visit a corn maze or haunted house. Like hiking, a trip to the corn maze can benefit cardiovascular health due to the amount of movement and walking involved — all of which can increase your heart rate. Elevating your heart rate during exercise helps lower cholesterol levels, burn more calories, and may even decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases. There’s something about wandering (and sometimes getting lost!) in a giant corn maze that makes it one of the most joyous fall adventures for anyone. And while you’re making some core memories, you’re also getting in a great workout!

Haunted houses are a fall activity usually geared toward adults, but there are also kid- and family-friendly versions of this spooky attraction. They can work in the same way as walking through a maze: by providing a natural adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is a hormone released during times of stress, which can increase mental alertness and supply extra energy to the body.

Play touch football or flag football with friends or family. The air is brisk, the sun is shining, and a game of touch football or flag football is a terrific way to get your blood flowing and stir up a little healthy competition. Split up into teams and even make a friendly wager – the point is to have fun and get in some physical activity at the same time! Both types of football activities involve running, throwing and jumping – surefire ways to break a sweat. 

Run or walk in a “Turkey Trot” or another fall race. The cooler temperatures make running or walking outdoors a more enjoyable cardiovascular exercise. Grab a friend and help keep each other motivated by starting small with an end goal of completing a local 5K. These types of races are often geared toward participants of all ages and abilities, so it makes for a fun family outing, too. Then, you can come home and enjoy your favorite fall comfort foods with a little less guilt because you’ve gotten in a workout! 

There are so many things to love about fall, and now you know you can turn these favorite fall activities into a workout without even realizing it. The key is to find creative ways to get moving, keep your body healthy and have fun at the same time!  

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