Autumn has arrived, temperatures have cooled, and daylight hours have decreased as our short, Canadian summer slips through our fingers. Staying fit can be much easier in the summer season for those of us who incorporate outdoor fitness activities into weekly summer routines. Yet the arrival of a cooler season doesn’t mean that nature should be off-limits for our fitness goals. The outdoors provide an opportunity to incorporate healthy activities into everyday life, especially for those of us who aren’t keen on obtaining a gym membership.
Hiking is a fantastic autumn activity. The beauty of the fall brings refreshing, crisp air and stunning colours on trees and leaves. If you live in an urban environment, you don’t necessarily need to leave the city to enjoy a hike and experience nature. In Toronto for example, there are several urban options such as Warden Woods, Cedar Trail, Taylor Creek Park, The West Humber Trail and many more.
Hiking is a form of physical fitness that has many health benefits. The benefits of hiking include improved mood and sleep, weight control, and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Hiking improves bone density and strengthens your core, quadriceps, hamstrings and your hip and lower leg muscles. Hiking is also a great opportunity to bond with your partner. A hike on a beautiful autumn day can be incredibly romantic. The fresh air and beautiful surroundings will lift your mood and allow you to clear your mind and re-connect with each other in a serene environment.
Do you have children? Bring them! A family fall hike will allow your kids to release their energy and stay fit and healthy in the process. Hiking allows children to focus on peaceful surroundings and teaches them to appreciate nature. Connecting with animals and wildlife aids children in developing empathy and compassion and helps them understand the importance of environmental protection. Hiking and walking are also good habits for kids to adopt for healthy stress management. The family hike is a wonderful option for bonding with your children in a relaxed setting, without the many distractions of modern-day life.
What is the best part of an autumn hike? No mosquitos or heat waves! Despite the cooler temperatures, it’s important to still stay hydrated and prepared on your autumn outing. Always bring water, snacks and a small first aid kit. For chillier days, consider bringing warmer beverages in a thermos such as hot chocolate, apple cider or tea. If you are interested in teaching your children more about the nature you see along the way, bring binoculars to get a closer look at birds or any shy creatures you spot in the woods. Consider taking photos of wildlife to document your experience with your kids and bring a wildlife book to help them learn about the animals and fall flowers they see on their travels.
Enjoy your autumn!