With a scorching summer finally behind us and a typical Michigan winter just around the corner, fall is the ideal season for families to get outdoors. Whether you’re looking to instill healthy habits in your children or are simply looking for a fun physical activity with a touch of adventure, autumn in Michigan offers plenty of opportunities for adults and kids to have a great time while exercising. Put on your shoes, grab your favorite scarf, and try out these mild-weather, family friendly activities.
- Hiking. With walking becoming a more popular form of exercise, taking the family out for a hike shouldn’t be overlooked. There are many beautiful places in Metro Detroit that offer miles of trails and the chance to spot wildlife at little or no cost, many of which also include educational nature centers. For close-to-home hikes, consider Stony Creek Metropark or any of the 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks at which admission is only $7 per vehicle, per day. Pack a lunch, put on your pedometer, and hit the trail for a low cost exercise adventure. Bonus: the kids can be as loud as they want.
- Family Fun Runs/Walks. We all know that person who has at some point decided to dedicate their time to training for and participating in a race event such as a 5K, 10K, or half marathon. This may be a fitness goal you have for yourself as well, but have difficulty fitting in with the responsibilities of family life. These days, however, many of these events are designed with parents- and their children- in mind. Themed races that allow participants to walk the courses, such as the Color Run race series, or events that pair shorter distances with typical race lengths, such as Detroit’s own Turkey Trot, which offers the Mashed Potato Mile fun run for children under 12, are festive options for families. Bonus: many race events also have a charity component that benefits the community.
- Pumpkin picking. Between long walks and heavy lifting, pumpkin picking is better than a trip to the gym. Soak up some autumn sunshine and flex your muscles by helping your kids pick out the best pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns, pies, and soups. There are several pumpkin patches throughout Oakland County, as well as surrounding counties, that are open on weekends and may also offer apple picking. One option is Stony Creek Orchard and Cider Mill in Romeo. Bonus: Teach kids about cooking and healthy eating by sacrificing one pumpkin for kitchen fun!
- Leaf collecting. The changing colors are one of the best parts of autumn in Michigan. Younger children will enjoy this easy and old-fashioned activity while spending time outdoors moving around and investigating the world they live in. The concept is simple: examine the fallen leaves, find the prettiest or most interesting ones, repeat. Help your kids to find leaves in every color, shape, or size, and then let them save their favorites by pressing the leaves between wax paper. Bonus: this activity is free!
Enjoyable fall exercise is never hard to find. It’s as simple as taking walk with your children or teaching them that football isn’t just a game played on television. Head outdoors this season for a healthier body, mind, and heart!
—Hannah Borland, Beaumont Parenting Program Volunteer