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A Twist on Fall Fitness: Helpful Resources for Some Family Friendly Fun

by Lori Diamos1 Comment

Fall is one of my favorite seasons as I love the vibrant colors and the more comfortable temperatures. It is also a great time to be active so below are some family friendly activities to consider taking part in this fall. If by chance we don’t mention one of your favorites be sure to take a second to share your fall activity idea below so we can all add it to our list of possibilities.

  • Fall fitness Go to a corn maze: Not only is this fun but you get to enjoy the great outdoors by doing some walking. In addition, most of these corn mazes are located on or near farms which tend to also have other family friendly activities like hail bail climbing, petting zoos, corn kernel pits, jumpy houses, hay rides, indoor play lands, and pumpkin patches, so with all these choices you are sure to meet everyone’s needs. From past experience many of the online websites for these corn mazes offer a discount coupon you can print and bring with you to cut down the costs as well. My family has made it a tradition to go to Konow’s Corn Maze in Homer Glen, IL, but there are many great places throughout Illinois. This site can help you find a corn maze in your region or anywhere in the country: http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/index.php. What’s your favorite Corn Maze?
  • Hiking: There are some great parks here in Illinois or nearby in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan with trails galore to challenge any fitness level and get that lower body working. On the hike you can even collect leaves, twigs, nuts, or pine cones and turn it into a fun art/craft project for the kids. Here are a few visuals from simple to more extreme using leaves just to give you some fun ideas: http://pinterest.com/oneneedleshort/craft-ideas-leaves/
  • Biking: Many of those same parks suggested above for hiking also offer some amazing bike trails so if hiking is not your thing then consider a family bike trip to get that heart rate going. Regardless of your preference, here is a great site to find some appropriate trails near you: http://www.traillink.com/
  • Kayaking/Canoeing: For many out there, water may be more your thing. Though it is too cold to swim, a great way to enjoy the fall colors and work that upper body is by trying some kayaking or canoeing. Here is a site to help you find just the right place near you: http://www.borntopaddle.com/placestopaddle.php
  • Apple picking: Test your ability to balance, reach, lift and climb with some apple picking this fall season. Aside from some great outdoor fun, you will leave with fresh picked apples that you can snack on, juice, cook, or bake with. Many of these orchards have other outdoor kid/family friendly activities, as well, in addition to the ever popular cider and donuts. Here are a couple links that feature some nearby favorites:
    http://www.chicagoparent.com/picks/pick-your-own
    http://toddlingaroundchicagoland.com/2013/08/chicago-area-apple-orchard-guide-2013/
  • Pumpkin patch: With Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, it is a popular time of year for pumpkins. There are many great pumpkin patches in and around Chicagoland (see the link above under corn maze for more info) where you can test your lifting skills. Do you have a favorite place? Remember pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes so if you live by the philosophy bigger is better then make sure you protect yourself from “pumpkin patch back.” When lifting those big pumpkins, get as close to the pumpkin as possible, keep a flat back, get low to the ground by bending at the hip and knee, and keep the pumpkin near your center when lifting to minimize back strain.  Most patches also offer carts or wagons to make carrying a breeze so take advantage of them. Your back will thank you!
  • Fall Festivals: Though summer may be over, festivals continue to be in full swing. Whether it is Oktoberfest, Halloween, arts and crafts, or even fruit or vegetable related (Apple Fest, Cranberry Fest, Pumpkin Fest…), festivals can be found in cities, towns, and neighborhoods near you. They are another way to get outside, walk around for a bit, and enjoy the unique food or entertainment offered with family and friends:
    http://www.enjoyillinois.com/events
    http://www.fairsandfestivals.net/states/IL/
    http://www.festing.com/category.cfm?categoryid=8
  • Rake leavesRaking: Here is a free way to enjoy the fall foliage and get your heart rate up at the same time. Better yet, it is convenient (just step out into your front or back yard!) and relatively straight forward, so no excuses. Even my 2 year old likes to participate in this activity. The best part of course is jumping in the pile when you are all done, and it is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. If you are up for it you can even try your hand at being more sustainable by composting your leaves. Not only will you minimize landfill waste but you will also get a great soil additive for the spring and an ongoing arm workout as you periodically turn your compost pile so give it a try. Also, don’t forget to review these tips to save your back while raking leaves.
    http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/streets/supp_info/composting/home_composting.html
    http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/
  • Gardening: You don’t have to stray far from home to stay fit and active in the fall. Though we may consider spring and summer to be prime gardening season, fall is a time to garden, as well. Whether you are planting trees, shrubs, bulbs, garlic, or some other cool weather crop, get out your shovels and play in the dirt. Wake up those senses and proprioceptors as you kneel, crawl, walk, carry, and lift while you soak up some healthy Vitamin D from the sun as well:
    http://www.gardenillinois.com/icntipssept.htm
    http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dmp/palette/110821.html http://www.webgrower.com/regional/pdf/IL_Fall-Garden_9207.pdf

Fitness does not need to be complicated and the suggestions above are a fun and simple way to get your family moving, out of the house, and building strength, stamina, and traditions to last a lifetime.  I hope one or more of the resources shared above help you and your family in picking a fall fitness adventure everyone can enjoy. Take a minute to share your family’s favorite fall fitness activity below.

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