Get a head start on the season with these ways to soak in the great outdoors

The best way to start a fall fitness routine is to tie your activities to the events taking place around you. Here are some ways you can maximize your outdoor time this season:

  • Take a walk or a bike ride down a tree-lined trail and take in some of the colorful scenery.
  • Turn your annual pumpkin hunt ritual into a calorie burner by finding an outdoor garden and taking a stroll on your way to finding the perfect pumpkin.
  • Look for haunted trails or corn mazes, which pop up during this time of year, to encourage a walk in a new and fun environment.
  • Rake the leaves in your yard for a surprisingly taxing workout. You can expect to burn about 220 calories per hour, although it varies by gender, age and fitness level. You can also burn a few extra calories by jumping in that leaf pile after you’ve finished raking.
  • Find a race that takes advantage of the season. The fall is a popular time for themed 5Ks such as costumed Halloween dashes and, a little later in the year, Thanksgiving Day turkey trots. Put one on your calendar now and start working toward that goal.
  • Prepare for the weather by wearing layers of breathable, wicking fabric that will keep you protected against the chill but also help you diffuse sweat when you elevate your heart rate.
  • Plan around the available natural light to make sure you have enough time for your workout. Daylight hours shrink in the fall, so be mindful about when you get out and exercise to eliminate the darkness from your list of excuses.

FALL FOODS

As a healthy complement to outdoor exercise during this season, consider a few fresh fall foods:

  • Although the best pumpkins for carving aren’t always the best ones for cooking, you can find pie pumpkins and jack-o’-lantern pumpkins at the same time. Look for the smaller, ball-shaped varieties and use them for soups, pancakes and other healthier than pie alternatives. You can also roast the seeds for a delicious snack.

A 100-gram serving of pumpkin seeds is about 125 calories and contains magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.

  • Feast on other fall vegetables to add a little color to your diet with carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and squash all coming into season.

Create alternative Halloween treats so that your kids — and, let’s be honest, you too — aren’t tempted to eat candy every day for a week. Color a clementine like a jack-o’-lantern, or cut a piece of string cheese into thirds, push a pretzel stick into the cheese and fray the edges for an edible witch’s broom.