5 Fun Autumn Activities That Can Double As a Workout

Sport & Activity

Certified personal trainers share how popular autumn activities can offer fitness perks, too.

Last updated: 31 October 2022
5 min read
5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

As temperatures begin to drop, it can be tempting to cosy up indoors and stay put. And while taking a rest is imperative for both the body and mind, it's equally important to keep moving. It may seem like there are fewer opportunities to get active outside during cooler months, but there are several fun autumn activities that can work up a sweat—and they don't even feel like a workout.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as walking briskly, yoga or gardening), 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity in a week (like running, skipping, swimming laps and bicycling), or a combination of both. Children and adolescents are also recommended to do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day. Exercising regularly can benefit your health by decreasing your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

If you're looking for enjoyable ways to keep moving outside during the autumn season, here are six ways to break a sweat, recommended by certified personal trainers. Depending on your current fitness level, medical history and other factors, each of these activities probably fall under the moderate-intensity category. Here's why: most of them require walking and, in some instances, carrying heavy items—like big pumpkins or bags of apples.

But, a few of the fun autumn activities listed below would qualify as vigorous exercise, since they call for running and jumping. If you're unsure if any of the below are a fit for you, make sure you check in with your doctor or other licensed medical professional.

5 Fun Autumn Activities That Get You Moving

  1. 1.Pick Apples and Pumpkins

    5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

    Picking apples or visiting a pumpkin patch can be a cardiovascular workout as well as an anaerobic one.

    "Walking up and down the orchard with your bushel of apples is a great way to get out and walk while challenging your strength and balance", said Josh Sedgwick, NASM-certified personal trainer.

    Kate Meier, NASM-certified personal trainer, and a certified USA weightlifting level 1 coach, recommended carrying your basket of apples or pumpkins instead of lugging it around in a wheelbarrow in order to build muscle strength. (However, if you find that carrying a basket is too challenging, using a wheelbarrow may help alleviate some of that stress.)

    "Walking [around the patch] might not get your heart pumping the way a brisk jog will, but it's a great way to stay active or even recover from a tough workout the day before", she said.

  2. 2.Go on a Hike

    5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

    Make the most of the colourful autumn foliage by hitting the trails for a leisurely (or intense) hike. Hiking boasts quite a few health benefits. For example, it can build endurance, improve balance and core strength, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease, and even reduce stress levels and support overall mental health.

    "Hiking is great cardiovascular exercise if you keep a good pace, so you can skip the treadmill if you plan to hit the trails", Meier said.

    According to Harvard Health, a good walking pace to get your heart rate going and provide your body with a workout is between 2.5 and 4.2 miles per hour.

    (Related: The 5 Benefits (And Drawbacks) Of Running on a Treadmill, According to Experts)

  3. 3.Visit a Haunted House or Corn Maze

    5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

    Similar to hiking, a trip to the corn maze can benefit cardiovascular health due to the amount of movement and walking involved—all of which can increase your heart rate. Elevating your heart rate during exercise helps lower cholesterol levels, burn more calories and may even decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases.

    Haunted houses can also work in the same way, while also providing a natural adrenaline rush. Adrenaline is a hormone released during times of stress, which can increase mental alertness and can also supply extra energy to the body.

    "The excitement of rushing through [a haunted house] gives you the same physical benefits of a corn maze, with a much stronger distraction from the feeling of exercise", Sedgwick said.

    However, stressful situations—such as being scared in a haunted house—can cause stress cardiomyopathy, also known as "broken heart syndrome", which can disrupt your heart's normal rhythm. Something to bear in mind if you have a heart condition.

  4. 4.Play Touch Rugby

    5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

    "With rugby season in full swing, playing some tag or touch rugby with family or friends is a great way to get involved in fitness", Meier said. “Running, throwing and jumping are sure to tire everyone out".

    Because touch rugby requires a mixture of running and jumping, it's considered a vigorous-intensity physical activity. According to Harvard Health, games such as football and basketball are all considered vigorous, making them great alternatives to touch rugby if that's not your thing.

  5. 5.Run an Autumn Race

    5 Fun Autumn Activities That Break a Sweat

    If rugby isn't your thing, get your family and friends involved in a festive 5K run.

    "Autumn is a great time to get into running, and a goal of running an impressive 5K at your local race can be great motivation", Meier said. "Running is a great cardiovascular exercise and works for a variety of goals, including heart health and weight loss. Just be careful to ease into it to avoid injuries".

    (Related: How to Increase Your Running Mileage Without Getting Injured, According to Experts)

    The Bottom Line

    Whether it's apple picking or dashing through a maze, any creative way to get moving can keep your body in good health. Staying physically active helps strengthen bones and muscles, improves brain health, can help manage weight, reduce the risk of numerous chronic diseases, and increases the chance of living longer.

    Words by Kiersten Hickman

Originally published: 31 October 2022

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