Raking and jumping into a pile of leaves totally counts as exercise.
As summertime comes to an end, we're looking forward to crisp outdoor runs, feeling cozy in fleece and flannel, and roasting s’mores over the fire. But while it can be easy to get caught up in the gooey chocolate-marshmallow goodness of one of our favorite cool weather treats, there’s a lot more autumn-themed fun you can have that actually boosts your health too.
From apple picking to pumpkin carving, we made a list of 19 healthy fall activities for you to add to your bucket list this season. Use these ideas to get closer to Mother Nature, try out delicious seasonal recipes, and find new ways to have a blast with friends and family.
Expand your palate with a new fall recipe
As the trees turn to yellow and orange hues, the shelves of the supermarket follow suit. Incorporate fall staples like squash and sweet potato into your cooking to break out of your go-to routine and make the most of what’s in season.
Go apple picking with family and friends
The only thing better than biting into a crisp, juicy apple is doing so right after you’ve picked it off the tree. Apples are a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, and their natural sweetness is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Run (or walk) a fall road race
Whether you’re in it for the competition or the camaraderie, running a road race is a great way to get involved in your local athletics community (and give your legs and lungs a solid workout too). If you’re not up for the race but still want to be a part of the action, volunteer to hand out water or help clean up.
Carve pumpkins and roast the seeds
There’s something satisfying about getting elbow-deep in the slimy orange guts of a pumpkin. This year, go one step further and separate the seeds from the slime and roast them to make a healthy snack to tuck into your purse or pocket.
Go for a nature walk and enjoy fall colors
Our senses go crazy for fall. From the sound of leaves crunching underfoot to the sight of brightly colored foliage, there’s nothing quite like it. Make an effort to get outside and take in all the beauty. Plus, research shows that being in nature helps us de-stress.
Turn pumpkin into a kitchen staple
Pumpkins grace us with their presence for only a few months each year, and there’s much more you can do with this fiber-filled fruit than make pumpkin pie. Take full advantage of the flavors of the season by adding naturally nutrient-rich, low-calorie pumpkin to dishes like hummus, ravioli, soup, muffins and more.
Make spiced apple cider
Summer calls for lemonade, winter screams hot chocolate, and during fall we get to warm up to crisp spiced apple cider. In just 30 minutes, you can make this low-fat, low-sodium drink that’ll leave your taste buds feeling festive.
Rake leaves into a giant pile to jump into
It can be daunting to exercise outside as the air starts to chill, but if you can’t bring yourself to layer up and go for a jog, grab a rake and get your heart rate up by simply clearing your yard. Once you have a big enough pile, run, jump and let a cloud of leaves cushion your fall.
Get lost in a corn maze
Challenge your kids to a race through a corn maze; you’ll prove that breaking a sweat doesn’t have to be a chore. Last one there is a rotten pumpkin!
Organize a game of touch football
Bundle up and get family and friends moving with a little healthy competition. Make sure to set ground rules, like no tackling or pushing, and take this opportunity to teach your kids the basics of throwing the pigskin.
Visit your local farmer’s market
Fall at the farmer’s market means much more than gourds galore. Stock up on fresh-baked pumpkin bread, seasonal beetroot hummus, homemade butternut squash pasta, and, of course, locally grown produce.
Take indoor activities—like reading—outside
In summer we complain that it’s too hot, in winter we say it’s too cold, but in fall we have no excuse to stay cooped up inside. Take a good book and a blanket outside and cozy up under an orange-tinged tree.
Ride your bike around the neighborhood
As soon as the snow starts to fall, we have to say so long to our two-wheeled form of transportation. Take a long, energizing ride before it’s too late and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the season.
Make vegetarian chili
Warm your tummy with a hearty bowl of vegetarian chili, a plant-based alternative to this traditional cold-weather dish. This low-calorie, low-fat recipe is exactly what you want to be slurping next to the fireplace.
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Incorporate cinnamon into your cooking
Cinnamon boosts satiety and is full of antioxidants, but if you need another reason to give it a try, its versatility is unbeatable. You can stir it into your coffee, add it to oatmeal, put a pinch on popcorn, sprinkle it on fruit, and much more.
Watch leaves change colors on a scenic hike
Explore nature in your area by venturing on a hike you haven’t done before. Make sure to wear adjustable layers to stay warm at the beginning and cool once you start to sweat.
Plant a garden of vegetables
Veggies like spinach, kale, arugula, collards, and more can be planted at the beginning of fall and harvested throughout the season. Before you plant, make sure to clear out any summer produce that’s no longer growing.
Volunteer with a local charity
Charities always need extra help as the holiday season approaches, and every group has something different to offer. Whether you prepare meals, walk dogs, or sort clothes, no good deed goes to waste. You can find out about local charities through websites like Charity Navigator.
Start a gratitude journal
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you might be feeling extra appreciative of everything that has happened this year. Write down one thing you’re thankful for each day to get perspective on what’s making your heart feel so warm and fuzzy.