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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Staying Active in the Fall

By Lisa Knapek, dietetic intern — University of Minnesota-The Emily Program. 

When I was a kid, I loved to play outside in the fall. It wasn't so hot and the landscape was beautiful with the changing colors. However, it was sometimes hard to stay active because of a busy school schedule, cooler temperatures, and shorter days.

It's worth it to stay active: adequate amounts of activity keep you energized throughout the day, help you sleep better at night, and lift your mood. Here are seven tips that will help you keep you and your child active:

  1. Make physical activity a routine family event. Take a family walk on Sundays after lunch, play yard games together Tuesday evenings, or have a two-minutes dance party before sitting down to dinner.
  2. Set a good example for your child by leading an active lifestyle. This will encourage your child to be active too. For example, always park a block away from your destination on family outings.
  3. Make physical activity fun. Help your child create their own game to play or use these Let's Move activity cards.
  4. Come up with after-dinner activities. This month, you could take a family walk around the block to look at the fall colors instead of heading to the couch to watch TV. See the list of Fun Fall Activities below for more ideas.
  5. Schedule active play dates for your child. Is there a skating rink, indoor pool, or city park near by? Take your child to a variety of places to provide a new and exciting space for them to play.
Remember that it gets dark earlier, so encourage outdoor activity during daylight hours. If playing outdoors at night, be sure your child is in a safe location and is visible to cars.

Fun Fall Activities for the Family

  • Explore a corn maze.
  • Go pumpkin picking.
  • Bike ride or walk through a park or forest to see the changing leaves.
  • Schedule a neighborhood soccer game (or any other game) for both parents and children.
  • Play in and rake leaves.

Goals for this Month

Choose one or more:
  • Spend 20 minutes, twice a week, doing a family activity together.
  • Try one new outdoor activity with your child.
  • Schedule one active play date for your child and their friends.
Let us know in the comments when you've achieved a goal! For more information on physical activity, visit CDC's Physical Activity website.

Reviewed by Alison Swenson, dietetic intern — University of Minnesota-The Emily Program and Hannah Jastram, registered dietitian — Extension Center for Family Development.

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