For many of us, staying in shape during the summer months feels easier than maintaining a workout routine once the temperature starts to drop. When it’s warm out, we may have more motivation to go jogging, biking or walking. But staying in shape during the fall and winter is definitely doable. During the chillier months, here are a few ways to keep in shape that you may not have thought of.
Enjoy the colors
If you live in a location where the leaves turn colors in autumn, you’ve probably enjoyed taking the family out for an afternoon drive to take a look at the red, orange and gold hues. But you can also turn this wholesome fall activity into an opportunity for exercise. Head to a nearby park and go on a walk or bike ride. If you have a dog, bring him or her along. It’s a great activity for kids, it gives you a chance to enjoy one of the most beautiful things about this season, and it will help you keep in shape — all without hitting the gym or putting on workout clothes.
A lot of us have childhood memories of going to pumpkin patches, racing through hay mazes and enjoying hay rides. And while this may not seem like exercise, it certainly can be. If you live near a farm or someplace where the pumpkins are distributed over a patch of land large enough to require a bit of walking, this can offer you a chance to add some extra physical activity to your day.
When we think of Thanksgiving traditions, most of them center around food, family and football (the three Fs!). But there’s another holiday tradition that some people like to uphold — turkey trots!
In cities and towns around the country, it’s not uncommon to find races held on Thanksgiving morning. Most often, they’re 5Ks, so they’re not too intimidating to those who may be relatively new to jogging. And in many cases, there are opportunities for walkers, as well as runners. It’s a great chance to bond with family. It’s also a healthy way to kick off a holiday that’s largely known as being a time for indulgence (not that this is a bad thing — we all need to indulge at times).
It may not be the most fun activity. For most of us, it’s just another chore on the to-do list. But there is a silver lining. Raking leaves can burn up to several hundred calories per hour. So, since chances are you’ll have to do it anyway, it can be encouraging to know that it’s at least helping you to keep in shape, boring as it may be. Putting on your headphones and listening to music will help the time go by faster, and will make this chore relatively enjoyable. And, it’s a good opportunity to get outside and enjoy some fresh air — which, for most of us, is something we often don’t get enough of.
Putting on your headphones and listening to music will help the time go by faster, and will make this chore relatively enjoyable. And, it’s a good opportunity to get outside and enjoy some fresh air — which, for most of us, is something we often don’t get enough of.
In addition to pumpkin patches, autumn is the perfect time to visit an apple orchard. Picking them can help you burn up to around 200 calories per hour — particularly if you reach for the apples hanging at the higher points in the trees. This will give you a chance to stretch your muscles, as well as enjoy some aerobic exercise. It’s an excellent family activity, and once you get your apples home, you can use them to make healthy recipes.
Speaking of nutritious food, autumn is a great time to try out new, healthy recipes. With foods like apples, sweet potatoes and kale coming into season, there’s no shortage of healthy produce this time of year. And in addition to trying your hand at new recipes, you can try healthier versions of your traditional favorites.
When we think of Thanksgiving meals, for example, the dishes that spring to mind aren’t always the healthiest. But it can actually be a lot of fun to peruse recipe sites and find more nutritious incarnations of your old favorites. That way, when you indulge in a delicious fall meal, you’ll enjoy it on a whole new level because you’ll know you’re actually nourishing your body.
This time of year, many sports fans are following their favorite football teams. But it doesn’t just have to be a spectator sport. Get together a group of friends, hit the nearest park and play a game of touch football. It’s a fun way to reconnect with friends and family members, and it’s a great workout that can feel more like a game than like “exercise.”
Back to school games
Be inspired by the back-to-school season and take the kids outside for some old-school games — the ones you used to love playing at recess. Get some sidewalk chalk and draw a hopscotch or foursquare board and show the kids how you used to have fun “back in your day.” It’s fun, inexpensive, a great bonding activity, and something you can do right in your own driveway.
Chopping and carrying wood
Okay, so most of us probably don’t chop our own wood. But if you’re among those who do, the good news is it can burn quite a few calories. And even if you don’t, just carrying in the wood that you purchased already chopped from the garage to the living room fireplace will burn some calories and add a little physical activity to your day.
Hitting the gym, going on a run and taking an exercise class are all great ways to stay in shape. It’s helpful to realize that just leading an active lifestyle (one in which your daily routine involves physical activity that you may not think of as exercise) can help you to stay healthy, as well. And there are plenty of opportunities for this once autumn rolls around.
— Sarah Cooke