Fall for Physical Activity

mom and dad jogging with daughter in a jogging stroller

This season, focus on the social benefits of physical activity. Share the beauty of the great outdoors and the many fall events with friends. Being active with others provides time to socialize and build relationships. That sense of belonging contributes to improved self-esteem and decreases stress and feelings of loneliness.

Enjoy fall weekends

  • Take in the fall festivals, craft shows and themed events that many communities offer.
  • Support a worthwhile cause – participate as a family in an active fundraising event – walk, run, cycle or in-line skate for charity while improving your own health.
  • Enjoy a scenic bike ride, walk or hike in or around your community.
  • Visit a pick-your-own farm for apples and seasonal vegetables. Foodland Ontario has recipes for vegetables and fruit in season and information on farms you can visit.
  • Visit local farms to pick your own pumpkins, tackle a corn maze, build a scarecrow or simply wander around and enjoy the sights and sounds.
  • Don’t forget the time-honoured tradition of raking leaves and then jumping in the piles (remove all sticks to avoid injuries).

Add physical activity to Thanksgiving and Halloween

  • Plan an active theme for your Thanksgiving celebration. Take a walk before and after dinner, have a family game of croquet, bocce or softball, or play pumpkin bowling (by using small pumpkins as bowling balls).
  • Throw a Halloween party featuring Goblin Games, Terrifying Twister, a pumpkin-throwing contest and a Scary Scavenger Hunt.
  • Invite your child’s neighbourhood and school friends over for a BOOOt Camp. “Train the young goblins for Halloween night by preparing a fitness circuit inside or outside that includes endurance activities to prepare for an evening of walking (such as playing pumpkin tag or soccer) and strengthening activities to carry and lift the heavy bag of treats!
  • When you’re handing out Halloween treats, consider throwing in a copy of Canada’s Physical Activity Guide for Children.

Fast healthy food to fuel your activity

If your activities take place during or close to a meal or snack time, it’s probably a good idea to bring along some healthy choices. Try these ideas:

Snacks to go:

  • Half a peanut butter and banana sandwich, few grapes, water
  • Homemade trail mix (nuts, seeds, whole grain dry cereals, pretzels, air popped popcorn), small apple, water

Meals to go:

  • Whole-wheat wraps filled with leftover meats and vegetables, a little salsa and grated cheese, plus fresh fruit and water.
  • Homemade chicken vegetable soup in a thermos, small multigrain rolls, water

Food safety tips:

  • Keep cold food cold and hot food hot using either ice packs or a thermos and insulated picnic bag.
  • If you can’t wash your hands, bring along some hand sanitizer.

The fun continues after school

The after-school hours are a critical time to keep kids moving. Encourage your children to play outside and try activities like these:

  • Play catch with a baseball, football, or Frisbee.
  • Have a game of tag or monkey in the middle.
  • Play driveway hockey or draw chalk lines on the driveway for hopscotch or 4-square.
  • Create their own dance moves to their favorite songs and perform for the family
  • Skip rope before the weather gets too cold!
  • Go to the park with friends. Help your child improve his or her fitness by encouraging the use of the creative playground (swing, slides, monkey bars, etc.)
  • Go mountain climbing…okay, maybe just scale the hills in your yard or neighbourhood park.
  • Create a live, active version of their favorite video game to play in a local park. .Keep track of how many times they can walk around the block in 30 minutes. If you live on a farm, keep track of how long it takes to walk around the entire property one time. Encourage them to beat that number or time the next day.
  • Register your child for lessons or activities at a sports club or community centre. Many clubs and centres offer rates based on income levels. Try different options, such as karate, bowling, yoga, hip hop, basketball, synchronized swimming or curling.

Plan active family days or vacations

Mild weather and beautiful scenery provide a perfect backdrop for family holidays.

  • Take advantage of the brilliant colours by going on a canoe trip, which combines canoeing, hiking, portaging and backpacking, for great family fun and fitness.
  • Visit a local park or conservation area and enjoy the fall colours.
  • If you live in the city, travel to a park in a different area of the city and explore the scenery.
  • If you plant a garden, get the family involved in gathering seeds to dry and save for next season.
  • If going on vacation or visiting family, pack comfortable shoes and your favourite sports gear and find somewhere to get active.

A word about safety and physical activity

Safety is important in every season. This fall, consider the following:

  • Dress for the weather. Temperatures range from very warm to very cold. Be prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store. Dress in layers as temperatures fall.
  • Be sun safe. Wear sunscreen when being active outdoors, and drink plenty of water.
  • Jump in and run through the leaves in your yard or in the park and…be sure to remove any sticks, twigs or other sharp objects from the piles of leaves.
  • Have an active Halloween. Walk or run from house to house, and be sure to obey the rules of the road and observe special safety rules for trick-or-treating.

Contact your local health department for more safety tips and information.

So, this season, fall in love with physical activity!

Find out more

Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, Public Health Agency of Canada
Safe Kids Canada

Last Update – February 7, 2019

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