As colder days and nights become the norm, don’t retreat indoors. While the couch is calling and it’s awfully nice to curl up with a book every once in a while, staying indoors can become a tiring habit during the colder months. All of a sudden, you neglect to call friends or go to the gym and your indoor routine becomes hard to shake.
Excessive indoor time results in lack of sunlight, less physical activity and less social interaction, all of which can contribute to the winter blues. So, let’s get proactive now, while the weather is still gorgeous.
Below, you’ll find our favourite autumn activities, designed to be social and physically rewarding. If you adopt these hobbies, they’ll become habits, and you’ll be effortlessly beating the winter blues in no time at all.
Maybe this one’s obvious, but I’m assuming most of you aren’t doing it. In most major cities, it’s hard to find a way to connect with nature. Some of us, though, are lucky enough to have large, intricately trailed public parks within our city limits. (Torontonians, think High Park.) Those of you without a local public park, forest or otherwise naturally-hike-inducing setting might have to venture out of the city – Gasp! – for the sake of your wellbeing.
I enjoy a summer hike as much as the next girl, but autumn’s hiking allure is unbeatable. The air is cool, allowing for a cozy sweater and fewer bugs. The leaves are changing into vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. A thermos of apple cider – and, perhaps, whiskey – warms your pocket. Your pace is sometimes quick and often luxuriously slow. These are just a few reasons to get out there while the fall weather is still treating us nicely.
A few more benefits, on the physical side of things, are easy to name. Regular hikes will increase your cardio-respiratory fitness and your muscle tone. Getting regular cardio exercise like this will increase your lung capacity, strengthen your heart, give you a better night’s rest and decrease your stress level. Your legs will be toned, filling out those skinny jeans perfectly. Besides that, they’ll be strong.
With the winter months ahead, these are some great health benefits to get you rolling into the colder months with a strong immune system and great overall health.
Football or Baseball
Gather up the troops for a friendly game of football. Or, if you’re a baseball guy, head over to a local public field. Baseball requires more equipment, of course, so football is a little bit more accommodating for the newbie athletes out there. You’ll just need one friend with a football; just one.
This is another great cardio exercise, like hiking, but it comes with great social benefits, too. Make it a weekly ordeal, with a Saturday afternoon game or an after work match followed by dinner. You’ll strengthen your friendships and create new ones, probably making other plans for the week while you’re out at the game. This will result in more outdoor time and – since these friends are down for some physical activity – maybe a hiking buddy or two.
With a group of friends in outdoor mentality, you’ll have less time to establish a long, lasting relationship with your couch.
Pumpkin and apple picking
Harvesting is a great way to get outdoors with the whole family or a group of friends. Walk around the orchard all afternoon, bending low and reaching high for the fruit of the season. You’ll incorporate a variety of movements into your day – working up a sweat, strengthening your core and increasing your flexibility. You’ll strengthen those arms, too, by carrying the pumpkin or basket back to the car.
During harvest season, you can also look for pears or other fruits and veggies that are seasonal treats in your region. If you make food picking a hobby, you’ll get the added bonus of having fresh, local food in the house almost constantly.
Full of fibre and antioxidants, apples are great to have around the house. They’re disease fighters, tooth whiteners, vitamin-packed super foods and immune boosters.
Pumpkins are similarly great for your overall health. Packed with vitamins A, C and E, pumpkins also deliver a dose of fibre and potassium. They’re known to fight disease, promote digestive health and balance hormones. With real pumpkin in the house, you can make anything from soups to cakes.
Since you’ll be cooking with local, whole, nutrient-packed ingredients, you’ll look good from the inside, out.
There’s no reason to fear the cold weather. Sure, you’ll need an extra sweater and a thicker coat, but you certainly won’t get heat stroke or mosquito bites. Get to know and love the cold weather and, before you know it, you’ll be hiking those leaf-ridden trails with an apple in one hand a football in the other.