Fall in out in full force where I live, always competing against spring for the title of my favorite season. While I don't enjoy the darker days and the chilly nights, I love the lack of humidity, the changing leaves, and the moderate temperatures that are characteristic of most Autumn days here. When the scenery is beautiful and the temperature comfortable, almost any activity—including exercise—seems more fun and enjoyable. Here are seven worthwhile pastimes that can help you get fit, burn calories and enjoy the beautiful outdoors before winter strikes!
Flag Football: 520 calories* per hour
For me, fall is football season. I have so many good memories of watching football games with my friends, but why should we all watch from the stands? You don't have to be a pro athlete to toss around the pigskin at your local park or even in your own backyard. 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). If football isn't you thing, how about soccer? It's comparable in calorie burn and doesn’t require the hand-eye coordination—just foot-eye!
Raking Leaves: 260 calories* per hour
I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, raking leaves was actually fun! (Maybe because it meant you'd get to jump in the big piles when you were done?) If you are raking up 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.
Horseback Riding: 470 calories* per hour
I have to admit something: I have never been horseback riding. That said, I don't have a true perspective on how much muscle is really required to ride a horse, and whether it's aerobically challenging or not. I have heard that 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.
Take a Hike: 400 calories* per hour
Hiking is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a fall day with my four-legged fitness buddy in tow. The uneven terrain and inclines you encounter on the trail force 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 I forget I'm huffing and puffing as I climb the hills!
Join a Race: 460-680 calories* per hour
Spring and fall are my favorite seasons for running. Fall is especially popular among runners, so you're sure to find a race you can run or walk almost every weekend this fall, including Halloween races and Thanksgiving Day events, too. Check out SparkPeople's free 5K and 10K training programs to get started, or join a local running group to train for an upcoming race in your area! Walking at a 15-minute per mile pace, you'll burn 230 calories during a 5K; running at 6 miles per hour burns 340 calories for the same distance.
Pick a Pumpkin: 175 calories* 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. If you spend an hour walking leisurely among the rows of pumpkins, you could burn about 150-200 calories. Extend your day of fall activity by trying out the corn maze and picking a few apples at the nearby orchard. Not as much as some other activities, but far more than walking from the parking lot to the grocery store and back!
Visit a Haunted House: 150-280 calories* per hour
I do not like being scared. Just watching the preview for a horror movie makes my heart race! 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!
*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.
How are you having fun and burning calories this fall?
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