While autumn might seem packed with Halloween candy, fried carnival food, and fatty pumpkin spice lattes, there are plenty of ways to offset unhealthy aspects of the season with healthy, fun activities to do with your kids. Redefine what fall can be for your family. It is not too late to make some healthy choices before Thanksgiving! Don’t miss this go-to list:
Go on a Hike
You might feel like telling the kids to “take a hike” after they’ve asked you what’s for dinner for the tenth time, but you might actually want to think about taking one with them. Hiking is a low-impact exercise that effectively benefits both the body and brain. Even mildly to moderately steep trails offer enough physical challenge to get your heart rate up and help you break a sweat. The aerobic exercise strengthens muscles and bones, and spending time in nature can relieve stress and boost your mood. Don’t forget hiking essentials like layers, water bottles, snacks, sunblock, and trekking poles! Check out the best trekking poles for women.
Raking leaves is an inevitable fall chore which may have your kids whining every weekend, but turn it into a game and you might just change their minds. Raking relays can essentially be any race/raking combination you can think of. For example, once the kids have raked and bagged leaves, have them take turns racing the bags down to the curb. Or, see who can rake an elderly neighbor’s yard the fastest. Surprise your kids with apple cider and pumpkin bread afterwards for a job well done!
Go Apple Picking
Did you know that apples are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C? While apples are available year-round in grocery stores, they come to peak harvest across much of the U.S. during the fall months. Take your family on an apple picking adventure and then make something delicious and healthy with what you’ve picked – like an apple, fennel and kale salad, or apple pie-inspired oatmeal.
Myriad volunteer opportunities arise in the fall months, especially as the holidays creep closer. In fact, National Family Volunteer Day is celebrated on November 18th this year! Regular volunteering has been shown to lower risk for high blood pressure in older adults, as well as relieve stress and promote empathy and self-awareness. Find family-friendly volunteer opportunities near you by checking with local food banks, animal shelters, or community and river clean-up organizations. Free online sites like VolunteerMatch.org and CreatetheGood.org can also help you search and locate volunteer opportunities based on your location and interests.
Plant a Winter Garden
Are you up to snuff on your winter fruits and vegetables? While you might think that all the growing and harvesting is finished by the end of fall, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dark leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, collard greens, and spinach can all grow later in the year depending on where you live as can turnips, cabbage, leeks, and potatoes (just to name a few). Check with your local plant nursery or seed store for more information about cultivating a winter garden with your family right in the comfort of your own backyard.
Join a Charity Run
The final few months of the year are ripe with charity athletic events as well, from fun runs and walkathons to raise awareness about breast cancer, to Thanksgiving 5K’s and holiday color runs. Find a charity athletic event near you and sign the whole family up to join in. Not only will you all be getting a serious cardio workout by walking and running for a couple hours, but you’ll be supporting a good cause. Find charity athletic events near you on at Active.com/charitable.
Play Touch Football
Is your family big into tailgating or having friends over for the football game each weekend? While football parties are often stocked with less than nutritious goodies and drinks, it’s easy to incorporate calorie-burning fun with a game of touch football. During halftime or before the big game, encourage kids and parents to hit the front yard for a round of touch or flag football, soccer, or kickball. The kids will have a blast and you won’t feel so bad about sneaking another jalapeno popper!