5 Healthy Fall Activities for Families
The advent of autumn brings with it so many fun traditions – trick-or-treating, going to the state fair, attending fall carnivals, and let’s not forget Mom’s favorite, sipping on a pumpkin spice latte. It’s easy to get lost in the fall frenzy of sugar-laden, fried foods and schedules so chaotic it’s hard to find time to exercise.
Make a point to incorporate more healthy activities into your family’s fall fun with these 5 go-to ideas:
Head for the hills with your family this fall! Hiking is an effective way for everyone, kids and parents alike, to burn calories, build strength, and exercise coordination and agility skills. It also gets everyone out of the house and into the sunshine, enjoying the colorful foliage and crisp fall air.
Not sure where to start looking for trails near you? Visit AllTrails.com or download their app and you can search for trails near where your family lives, find driving directions and learn more about the types of trails, landmarks, and natural features you can expect to see. Don’t forget when you take your family hiking to pack lots of water and healthy snacks (dried fruit, cheese sticks, nuts), put on sunblock and other sun protection (i.e. hats, sunglasses), and wear proper-fitting waterproof shoes as well as warm, breathable layers of clothing.
Fall is a great time for kids and parents to get their annual check-ups because it coincides with the start of cold and flu season. Not only can you go ahead and get your flu shot, but as a busy mom, you’ll also get a leg up on your health before you dive into the chaotic holiday season.
Measuring your blood pressure, tracking your weight, monitoring your exercise levels . . . your doctor will want to check in with you on all these important aspects of your health, especially if you are one of the millions of people living with lifestyle-related conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. An annual check-up is also the place to ask your doctor for referrals for important preventative screenings for women in their 30s to 50s like mammograms, pap smears, and bone density tests.
Did you know that in addition to local apple orchards, there may be farms near where you live that allow people to come and pick their own food? In addition to apples and stone fruit, you can expect fall harvests to bring you dark leafy greens, winter squash (like butternut and acorn), cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), as well as sweet potatoes, eggplants, and more.
Make a day of picking the harvest with your family and then keep the fun going by cooking a meal together with the bounty you collected. Not only will you introduce more whole foods into your family’s fall diet, but buying locally-produced foods also lowers your family’s carbon footprint and gives your kids an up-close glimpse of where their food comes from.
It may be no surprise for you to hear that volunteering has tons of health benefits for parents and kids alike. Serving others and giving back has been shown to help alleviate stress, fight high blood pressure, and improve overall mood. Lucky for your family, the fall months are some of the best for finding volunteer opportunities.
In addition to national awareness events (i.e. Breast Cancer Awareness walks and fun runs in October), there are early holiday volunteer jobs available at many food banks, charity re-stores, and faith communities. Saturday, November 17th, is also officially recognized as “National Family Volunteer Day.” You can find planned family volunteer projects being organized in your community at GenerationOn.org.
Whether your family is rooting for the University of Michigan Wolverines or the Detroit Lions this season, chances are there is some football watching happening in your home. Why not balance the TV time and calorie-rich game-day snacks with a little pre or post-game exercise of your own?
Break a sweat with a quick game of touch football out in the yard or simply set up an end-zone goal or makeshift field goal that everyone can practice throwing (or kicking) a football through. Football not your family’s thing? The World Series starts on October 23rd. Perhaps a little baseball action better suits you!
Finding easy, accessible, and fun ways to stay healthy this fall isn’t hard. Just don’t forget to monitor the weather forecast closely if you all are planning to spend a significant amount of time outdoors. And when it makes sense, involve grandparents too! Apple-picking, hiking, volunteering and so on provide a fun way to spend time with grandparents and engage in something healthy and productive.