The change of seasons can give us a sense of renewal and endless possibilities. Leaves change to bright yellow, red, and orange hues, making nature walks through the forest that much more enjoyable. Comfy sweaters, bonfires, and family, are especially emphasized this time of year.
However, fall, while beautiful, often reminds us that we are inevitably getting older. Our bodies are aging and so are our brains, and that can be worrisome and anxiety-creating.
Aging is unavoidable but it doesn’t have to be an indicator of a less-enjoyable life. If you find yourself falling into a negative mindset because of the stigma associated with aging, there are concrete activities you can include in your fall routine that can make you feel younger.
Here are some activities that you can take part in during the fall season to keep you active, engaged, and feeling youthful, no matter your chronological age.
Get Active and Work Your Brain
Everyone knows the fall season is accompanied by sweaters, changing colors, and of course, Halloween!
With Halloween there are pumpkin patches and corn mazes that are built for you and your family, friends, and/or your significant other, to enjoy a little outdoor time together.
Try setting some time aside to tackle the corn maze at these pumpkin patch farms and try and get yourself lost in the maze.
Not only can this increase the amount of activity you get in your day, but this can also give your brain a fun challenge to engage in.
Both increased activity levels1 and cognitive challenges (such as puzzles and mazes)2 are excellent ways to try and improve your physical and mental health, respectively.
Maybe you like to spend time indoors on those chillier days—in that case, why not try a medium- to large-sized fall-themed puzzle?
Importantly, it appears that engaging in activity—be it mental or physical—may slow the rate at which your brain ages3.
Crossword and sudoku puzzles are also great activities to take up in the fall and are really beneficial in keeping our brains young. Supplementation can also be an excellent addition in helping us stay young and sharp, cognitively speaking.
So, walk through a maze, do a jigsaw or crossword puzzle and include good-for-your-brain supplements so you can keep that brain engaged and stimulated.
Spend Some Time with Nature
The brilliant color changes brought forth by the fall season make it so much easier to get outside and appreciate nature. This is why taking a stroll through the forest or your closest nature trail is one of the best fall activities you can do to stay active.
Taking a long walk through the forest on a crisp fall day can be a great way to boost activity levels. What’s more, there is evidence that spending more time in nature can actually reduce the amount of stress we experience in our daily lives4.
While stress is generally adaptive and helps us overcome challenges in the environment, if we experience too much of it, it can cause some negative health effects.
One of these effects is to accelerate aging. This is thought to occur because of the effects of chronic stress on various biochemical processes, such as increased levels of reactive oxygen species and inflammatory compounds in the body5. These can cause damage to cells and contribute to the aging process.
Importantly, while more research is needed to truly confirm the findings, a review of various studies suggests that spending time in nature (e.g., in forests, hiking trails, etc.) is associated with reduced levels of inflammatory markers6.
Moreover, ‘ecotherapy’ is a form of treatment used to address various mental health complications and is achieved by exposing individuals to the peacefulness and bliss of natural environments.
It appears that ecotherapy is effective at reducing perceived stress levels and improving mental health conditions like PTSD and depression7.
If going for nature walks isn’t your thing, outdoor meditation is another way to integrate nature into your fall lifestyle.
In fact, ‘mindfulness retreats’ have been shown to reduce student stress levels8, which may be a great way to reduce, not only our anxiety levels and slow down aging, but that of our children as well.
Put the You in ‘Youth’
Fall can be a wonderful season. It’s truly up to you whether you choose to see it as a season that represents the inevitability of getting older or rather, make positive, healthful, affirmative decisions, and include activities, aimed at keeping you young.
Science suggests that getting out and enjoying the transition that is fall as it happens may improve your mood and reduce stress—both of which can help you feel more youthful.
So, get out and enjoy the fall weather with family and friends this year. Go jump in a pile of leaves with your children or host a “friendsgiving” to reflect on old memories around a bonfire—perhaps with some hot apple cider.
Whatever you choose, there are many youth-promoting activities you can engage in this fall season, so find what best suits your lifestyle and have some fun with it!
As always, consult your physician before making any significant changes to your diet and/or lifestyle.