Written by Nicole Nichols, Certified Fitness Instructor and Health Educator
When the scenery is beautiful and the temperature comfortable, almost any activity--including exercise--seems more enjoyable. Here are seven ways to get fit and burn calories* this autumn season.
*All calorie burned estimates from SparkPeople.com's fitness database are based on a 150-pound woman; people who weigh more will burn more calories.
You don't have to be a pro athlete to toss around the pigskin! Grab some friends (or the kids!) and head outdoors for a fun game of flag or touch football to burn more than 500 calories per hour. Then you won't have to feel guilty about spending hours watching your favorite team from your comfy couch (although you might pick up some sweet moves to try in your next game with friends).
Calories Burned: 520 per hour
Raking leaves is a great upper-body workout! When raking leaves, change the movement and direction to make full use of your muscles. Rake in front of your body to target your shoulders. Rake both right to left and left to right to work both arms evenly. This way, you'll help prevent blisters by avoiding repetitive motions too.
Calories Burned: 260 per hour
Horseback riding is not only fun, but that it also works muscles you're not accustomed to using and burns a good amount of calories. It's a great way to enjoy nature and the beautiful season. You can check with your local Chamber of Commerce to find a stable in your area.
Calories Burned: 470 per hour
The uneven terrain and inclines you encounter on the hiking trail forces your body to work harder than walking on a flat surface. That means you're recruiting more muscle fibers (to adjust to the terrain) and challenging your balance (therefore engaging your core). That translates to a bigger calorie burn than walking alone. Plus, the scenery, sounds and scents along the way are so beautiful that you'll forget you're huffing and puffing as you climb the hills!
Calories Burned: 400 per hour
Visiting a local pumpkin patch is a fun fall activity for kids and grownups of all ages. You could spend hours searching for the perfect pumpkin, and while you do, you'll be accumulating several hundred steps into your day as long as you say no to the hay ride to and from the patch! Up the ante by carrying your pumpkin as far as you can that day, but do so carefully. Keep the pumpkin as close to your body as possible and always squat down (don't bend) to pick one up or set it down for a break. Extend your day of fall activity by trying out a corn maze, or picking a few apples at a nearby orchard.
Calories Burned: 175 per hour
Fall is a great season for running, so you're sure to find a race you can run or walk almost every weekend this autumn, including Halloween races and Thanksgiving Day events, too. Check out SparkPeople's free 5K training programs and free 10K training programs to get started, or join a local running group to train for an upcoming race in your area!
Calories Burned: 460-680 per hour
If fear is the culprit behind your racing pulse, no, you are not getting the same aerobic (or calorie burning) benefits as a workout. The activity of walking or--better yet--running through a haunted maze, theme park or house, however, does the trick! This is a great way to enjoy the season and fit in a little more physical activity to your day. Walk through the frightful space and you'll burn about 150 per hour, but run or sprint away from those scary ghouls and you'll increase the burn to over 250 calories per hour!
Calories Burned: 150-280 per hour
You will earn 5 SparkPoints