Whether you’re new to fitness or a seasoned movement-seeker looking for new ideas, getting active as a family offers many benefits. In fact, a regular exercise routine of 30 to 60 minutes about 3 to 5 times a week can help give you more energy, reduce stress, and improve your mood, so that you’re better able to care for those around you.
Breaking a sweat as a family also offers you valuable time together to appreciate your connection to one another, while strengthening the family bond. When you focus on fitness activities as a family, there’s a greater likelihood of creating lifelong fitness habits for youngsters, with countless physical, cognitive, and social benefits that will nurture their wellbeing throughout their life.
With its cooler temperatures, fall is a perfect time to get moving together — especially outdoors! “Autumn is a wonderful time to practice a regular movement routine that you can carry through to spring,” says Dara Bergeron, Founder and Head Trainer of Belly Bootcamp.
“Walking can be a year-round activity for families who don’t reserve it for vacations or summer weekends. Weeknight walks in the dark can even be a special memory for younger kids who don’t often get to witness our world outside of daylight. Autumn offers sunny days and cool temperatures — a perfect combination for outdoor activities like hiking, walking, biking, and team sports.”
Bergeron adds that because temperatures and humidity are lower in the Northern Hemisphere during the fall, recreational family movement just seems to come more naturally this time of year.
As a movement specialist, Bergeron has ample ideas for getting families active outdoors any time of year, but especially during fall.
“Often, walking or bicycling to school is a minor time increase from driving and parking. Plus, kids are so much more ready to settle into a day at their socially distanced desks after a good morning walk or ride.”
She also adds that another great idea is to get into a specific “screen time” on weekdays that keeps kiddos looking for other entertainment before and after school — a basketball net, skateboard or neighbourhood park is much more attractive when it’s understood that iPads and video games are not an option.
Finally, Bergeron suggests caregivers take advantage of active weekday and weekend activities like hikes and bike rides while the weather is still kind. She finds that “urban hikes” to a fave coffee shop or local park are a nice way to get weekend movement together in the city.
“Giving younger kids scooters and bikes can help YOU walk at an adult pace and feel an energy boost, without stopping for every dandelion or squirrel.”
There are some things to keep in mind if you’re taking your fitness outside this time of year, however — most important of all, layers!
“We can often have temperatures varying 10-20 degrees in 24 hours,” notes Bergeron, “So having layers allows us to stay cool or warm throughout the day.”
She adds that from a nutrition and movement perspective, autumn is a season when many caregivers notice their little people are hungrier.
“Returning to the rigours of school, plus family active time, chores and homework can make for quite a full day for little ones — and you,” she says. “Expect everyone to have a larger appetite and to need a good night’s sleep.”
While there’s still plenty of good weather left during the autumn season to enjoy many different activities, it also means shorter daylight hours.
“We are programmed to feel sleepier as the sun goes down and wake as it rises,” says Bergeron, “So anticipate needing longer sleep and well balanced meals to help you all cope with busy days this fall.”