The days are shorter, the weather is cooler, and it’s tempting to stay inside and hibernate until winter. But getting your family outside and moving not only keeps you well during the fall, it also makes the days more fun after summer is gone. Here are some healthy fall activities to change up your everyday routine.
Take a Hike
What may have been miserable in the summer heat is now a relaxing activity the whole family can enjoy. It’s time to lace up the hiking boots and hit the dirt paths for an active day that might not even feel like exercise. Check out Fort Harrison State Park for gorgeous scenic trails, or Southeastway Park for a local hiking excursion. Either way, hiking will help you reach your steps for the day and let the kids get out their energy.
Go Apple or Pumpkin Picking
Visit your local apple orchard and pumpkin patch and spend family time hunting for the perfect pick. Most orchards offer kids’ hayrides, cider tastings, and plenty of outdoor games to play, as well as amazing mental and physical health benefits for the whole family. If your kids love spending time in the kitchen, try baking apple chips with the apples you picked as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Instead of tossing out all the seeds when you carve a jack-o-lantern, try roasting them. Roasted pumpkin seeds are full of nutrients, provide needed magnesium, and may reduce cancer risk. And there are any number of delicious ways to season them.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Duration: 60 min.
Yield: 6 Servings
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Ground Cinnamon (for Sweet Toss)
- Grand Marsala and Currants (for Indian Toss)
- Smoked Paprika and Silvered Almonds (for Spanish Toss)
- Grated Parmesan and Dried Oregano (for Italian Toss)
- Brown Sugar, Chipotle Chile Powder, and Ground Cumin (for BBQ Toss)
- Seed the pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Using a spoon, scrape the pulp and seeds out of your pumpkin into a bowl.
- Clean the seeds: Separate the seeds from the stringy pulp, rinse the seeds in a colander under cold water, then shake dry. Don’t blot with paper towels; the seeds will stick.
- Dry them: Spread the seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet and roast 30 minutes to dry them out.
- Add spices: Toss the seeds with olive oil, salt and your choice of spices (see below). Return to the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about 20 more minutes.
- Sweet Toss with cinnamon and sugar (do not use salt in step 4).
- Indian Toss with garam masala; mix with currants after roasting.
- Spanish Toss with smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after roasting.
- Italian Toss with grated parmesan and dried oregano.
- Barbecue Toss with brown sugar, chipotle chile powder and ground cumin.
Rather than use a noisy and potentially hazardous leaf blower, get the whole family involved. Raking builds upper body and core strength and is a great way to get everyone out in the fresh air. Don’t forget the best part: Rake all the leaves into a pile for the little ones to jump on.
There are lots of ways to enjoy bird watching. Some folks travel the world just to find elusive species, but you can see quite a few in your own area. Find the local birds for your region and practice using their names with your kids. Make toilet-paper-roll binoculars with your children and go on nature walks to see what kind of birds you can find. If you really enjoy it, consider a longer-term excursion, or make your own backyard bird feeder and see who stops by to visit.
Take a Cemetery Walk
Halloween is almost upon us, and it’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit. Chances are there’s a cemetery in your area, which can double as a free, peaceful walking trail. Walking for 30 minutes a day is a great way to improve overall health and stay in shape for parents and kids. Use the opportunity to talk with your children about what life was like when cemetery residents were alive. And be sure to respect cemetery rules.
Ride a Bike
Before it gets too cold, take family bike rides and check out the fall foliage. The Pennsy Trail and similar greenways are great low-traffic options for family riding. Or just take a spin around your neighborhood and see what kinds of leaves you can spot. If you have a kid who still needs to learn how to ride a bike, now is the perfect chance to get some practice in before winter. Before riding, make everyone review basic bike safety tips.
Next time you find your family buried in blankets watching TV all day, try one of these activities to keep them healthy and busy. You’ll not only keep the everyone active, but also create fun fall memories that will last a lifetime.