With crisp air, multicolored leaves and so many classic activities to add to your calendar, fall marks one of the most wonderful times of the year. It also provides the perfect climate to get moving outside.
Want to maintain your weight or even slim down? These activities — paired with a healthy diet — can help tip the calorie balance in your favor. Here’s how many calories you can burn while enjoying some of fall’s most popular activities.*
*Calorie burn estimates are for a person with a body weight of 160lbs/73kg.
What better way to take in the changing fall leaves than a hike on a technicolor trail? “As you step through the uneven terrain on a hike, you’re training your stability and strengthening your lower body,” says James Thomas, a certified personal trainer and studio manager with Les Mills. A walk in the woods can up your heart rate, help boost your mood and dial down stress and anxiety — a big plus pre-holiday season. Try a dog-friendly hike, explore a national park with the kids or mix things up with an urban hike.
Boring chore or engaging workout? “When the leaves fall and turn our lawns and sidewalks an autumnal orange, raking and bagging leaves can provide an excellent whole-body workout that will help preemptively burn off some potential winter weight,” says Jack McNamara, a certified personal trainer with Train Fitness. To reap core-strengthening benefits and avoid injury, follow these tips:
- Try to keep your posture as upright as possible.
- Regularly switch between raking from your left and right.
- Lift bags of leaves with your knees and legs rather than stooping or bending your back.
Ahh, the joy of the human-horse bond. Galloping through the fields on the back of a horse is another fall activity that might surprise you with its calorie-burning benefits. “Horseback riding is a good workout for the core muscles and thighs,” says Jody Braverman, a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. For a greater calorie burn, build up to a more challenging gait like a long trot and canter or work on skills like reining and cutting, per a 2015 study by researchers at Texas A&M University.
If you find yourself with a lot of wood to chop, you’ll reap the benefits of an excellent full-body cardiovascular workout with an impressive calorie burn to boot. “When you chop wood, your body coordinates multiple muscle groups through various planes of motion, requiring you to stabilize and engage your legs, abs, glutes, core, lower and upper back, chest, shoulders and arms,” says McNamara. No wood? No problem. For a similar workout, try using a cable crossover machine at your local gym or practicing your swing with a medicine ball.
There’s nothing better than heading to a farm with family and friends to pick pumpkins and fill bushels full of apples for homemade desserts. When you’re walking, reaching, twisting, squatting and carrying weight, you’re not just taking in the scenery and having fun — you’re also getting in a strength workout, says Thomas. These multiplanar movements get your body moving forward, side to side, and up and down which can help you improve your range of motion and avoid injuries in the future.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Learn how many calories fun fall activities burn, via @myfitnesspal #MyFitnessPal
Getting lost in a corn maze might not be the top calorie-scorcher on this list, but it’s a highly accessible way to boost your step count and improve your overall health. “To increase the challenge, just pick up the pace and pump your arms,” says Braverman. Depending on how long you power walk, you could burn quite a few calories — and even more if it’s haunted and you end up running from monsters or a stranger with a chainsaw.
Another great way to burn calories and have a healthier Halloween is to stroll through your neighborhood to take in decorations or go trick-or-treating with your children. “Toward the end of the month, trick-or-treating can provide a large amount of steps,” says Thomas. “I remember covering almost two miles of front lawns to hit as many houses as I could.” A higher step count could also contribute to better sleep at night once you’ve returned home with your haul.
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your favorite fall activities while also burning calories. Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, more movement can help improve your fitness, mood and calorie balance.
Originally published October 2021, updated October 2022
Ready to take the next step? Unlock MyFitnessPal Premium to access custom goal settings, quick-log recipes, and guided plans from a registered dietitian. Premium users are 65% more likely to reach their weight loss goals!