As the temperatures start to drop, the last thing you probably feel like doing is running outside on a chilly morning or leaving work to head to the gym when the skies are already dark. It may not surprise you that less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day — but you may be surprised by how sluggish you feel when your lifestyle is essentially inactive. You might rather snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa than burn off the calories in a class or doing yard work, but there is one way to make working out a bit more fun: involve the whole family.
Your kids need the physical stimulation, too. Researchers have found that, on average, children today play outside for just over four hours per week. When you were a kid, you played outside for more than double that, averaging out at 8.2 hours of outdoor play on a weekly basis. You might be quick to blame electronic gadgets, social media, and other technological conveniences. But you can’t ignore the fact that parents today simply aren’t comfortable telling their kids to run and play outside for hours without supervision.
It’s certainly not wrong to worry about their safety. But the unfortunate consequence of parenting in 2018 is that it may be keeping kids from playing in the great outdoors. The solution? Fit in your physical activity as a family. There are plenty of ways to do this in the fall, despite the cooler weather and the shorter daylight hours. Here are some of our favorites:
Walk or Bike Around the Neighborhood
Making pre- or post-dinner walks and bike rides a family tradition can be a great way to spend quality time together and move your bodies. Plus, given the breathtaking autumnal foliage, it gives you an excuse to sightsee around your own neighborhood. Make things more interesting by engaging in a game of “I Spy” or using sets of stairs you find to get your heart pumping. And if you’ve got a family dog, all the more reason to make these outings a regular thing.
Sign Up For Charity Walks or Races
Fall is a great time to participate in a charity walk-a-thon or race. Since the temperatures are cooler, you won’t have to worry as much about overheating. In addition, there are a lot of fall-themed events you can participate in, like a turkey trot or a zombie run. Look up events in your community and give back while you exercise. It’s really a win/win you can’t ignore. It’ll also give your family something to look forward to on a weekend or even on a holiday. You’ll create memories that’ll last a lifetime and may even encourage your kids to participate in athletic events in the future. After all, adults who partake in more than seven hours of physical activity per week have a longer life expectancy. Engaging in these activities now as a family could ensure everyone’s around for a long time to enjoy them.
Gamify Your Workouts
You may not like the fact that your kids love video games, but you can use this to your advantage. You can incorporate physical activity into your indoor activities with game-like methods. You might opt for active video games (Dance Dance Revolution and Wii games are classic examples) or venture outdoors with Pokemon Go to get the blood pumping, if the weather’s nice enough. You could also turn household chores into a game; not only will these tasks get done quickly, but your kids won’t even realize what a great workout they’re getting. If there’s leaf raking to be done or you’ve got a vegetable garden, the whole family can get physical right in your own yard if you make these tasks into a contest. Even when you’re watching TV as a family, you can turn the commercials into dance breaks to sneak in a bit of extra movement.
Go to Local Events
The bounty of fall has inspired loads of outdoor events and festivals. In your town or city, there are probably at least a handful of activities that you could easily make more physical. Scarecrow and harvest festivals, apple and pumpkin picking, corn mazes, and even geocaching activities can allow you to enjoy the beauty of nature in the fall and get a good workout. And because it’s not all about fitness, your kids will be able to enjoy themselves without ever knowing your motivation was to get active for the day.
Your instinct might be to curl up on the couch for the rest of the season. While that’s certainly okay in moderation, it’s important to connect as a family and ensure everyone stays active throughout this season. Not only will you feel a lot better, but your kids will probably be much happier (and healthier), too.