With its spectacular colors and refreshing temperatures, autumn is the perfect invitation to embrace outdoor activities that invigorate, rejuvenate and burn extra calories.Plus, changing up your usual exercise routine by adding activities like those listed below also provides the kind of fitness variety that might reduce your dementia risk by 35%.

  • Go apple picking in the country.After a three-hour afternoon in the orchards, you’ll emerge with brimming bushels and about 600 calories burned.Weight loss bonus: The apple fiber pectin helps dieters feel more full, consuming up to 22% fewer calories in the evening.Most apple varieties contain peel phytochemicals, including quercetin, which is under study to possibly reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
  • Instead of staying home to hand out the treats, volunteer to accompany your kids on their house-to-house Halloween jaunt, and burn almost 200 calories per hour.Of course this doesn’t work if you’re sampling the sugary fare.If you want to celebrate a healthy Halloween without sanctioning over-indulgence, opt for an activity-oriented holiday party, serve up a healthy dinner beforehand, and hand out delicious-and-nutritious items like Dole fruit bowls, boxed raisins, or 100% juice.
  • Take a hike.In addition to burning over 400 calories an hour, a vigorous trek through the countryside can also boost cognitive recall by nearly 20%.

In fact, regular hiking — like brisk walking — not only increases brain volume among seniors, but also dramatically improves aerobic capacity.

  • Saddle up and hit the trails.Though it may seem like the horse is doing all the work, you may be surprised to learn that an hour of horseback riding actually burns around 300 calories.If this sounds a bit too ambitious, then jog-walk the dog: Pet owners on a diet plan lost 5.2% of body weight over the course of a year (vs.4.7% for petless).

Fall foliage adds a dramatic backdrop to the activities above, but eventually it also adds up to leaf-covered-lawns in need of raking.Treat this seasonal chore as part of your fitness line-up, and burn 300 more calories an hour.

Published October 1, 2009