Beyond the Candy: Healthy Halloween Activities and Tips

Halloween doesn’t have to be all about candy.

Halloween is all about good, clean fun, dressing up and … sugar. But if you’re trying hard not to let the sweet stuff mess up your fitness goals, here are a few health-conscious ways to celebrate the fall holiday and a few tips on how to look your best on the day of.

1. Escape the Undead

There’s nothing like the undead coming after you to get your butt in gear. Zombie Runs, hosted throughout the country, aren’t exclusive to Halloween but sure are a festive way to stay fit instead of eating junk food.

Zombie runs — usually 5K — differ slightly from race to race, but have the same goal in mind: make it to the end alive. What does alive mean? You’ll start the race with a flag belt — like the ones used for flag football. Throughout the running course, “zombies” will try to grab at your flags. Be strategic to avoid them, veer off course if you must. Be agile and use your brains to keep your brains! Once all your flags are gone, you’ve been “infested.” Finish with at least one flag and you’re in the clear. You can run as an individual or as a team and strive for that end-of the-race survival medal. can tell you what events are happening in your city.

2. Trick or Track

Head out on the neighborhood with the kids. They can go door to door with their pillowcases or Jack O’Lanterns full of candy and you can run between houses. Run in place while you wait for the kids to switch houses, then carry on. Jogging — even in place — will burn between 400 and 500 calories an hour.

3. Channel Your Inner Richard Simmons

Dress up in all the ‘80s garb you can find. Sweat bands, leotards, short shorts and side ponytails. Then put on a classic ‘80s aerobics video. Many are available on YouTube (for those of us who ditched our VCRs in 1995). Sweatin’ to the oldies will burn about 500 calories per hour. If you opt to skip the video but still want the Jane Fonda workout experience, turn on some of the decade’s hits and try these classic moves:

4. Host a Monster Mash

Rather than everyone dressing up and standing around a house drinking, put a new twist on the tired Halloween party. Ask everyone to come as their favorite monster. You’ll have some whimsical (think Monsters Inc.), some literary, (like Frankenstein and Mr. Hyde), and some scary (like Predator or the few who don’t dress up, just to be ironic).

Turn up the tunes with some chilling hits and have a dance party. Need a few suggestions for this graveyard smash? Download classics like “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. If you get ambitious, you might even put a group together to learn the famous “Thriller” dance.

A Harvard Health study suggests the average 155-pound woman can burn about 400 calories with an hour of dancing.

5. Do the Time Warp

Sure, you could spend the night watching a scary movie, horizontal out on your couch while you eat popcorn and Junior Mints. But why not opt from a more vertical experience? Find a local screening of the cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and prepare for some audience participation.

The 1975 rock-musical originally flopped as a movie but gained a following as theaters began hosting interactive shadowcasts. Now, Picture Shows happen all over the country. Find the theaters and showtimes around you.

Dress up however you like and bring your props! You’ll throw rice at Ralph and Betty after their wedding, you’ll toss toilet paper into the air and you’ll throw literal toast as Frankenfurter proposes a toast. It may not be jumping jacks, but throwing things and doing the Time Warp will certainly get your heart going, plus, laughing is good for your abs.

6. Take a (Haunted) Hike

Niles Canyon, in Fremont, California, is the place where a woman in the 1920s died a violent death. Sightings of a bloody woman in a tattered white dress on the side of the road have been reported. The “White Witch,” as she’s been called, haunts the canyon, and takes with her those who stop to help.

From Bigfoot sightings to mysterious deaths, haunted hikes can be found throughout the country. Check out Andrea Lankford’s book “Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America’s National Parks” for a country-wide selection of scary outdoor adventures.

If you’re up for a weekend excursion, head out on a backpacking trip. You’ll be deep into the forest where you can tell ghost stories around the campfire… but can’t sleep with the light on.

Whether you choose spooky or whimsical, there’s a lot of fun to be had without that king-sized Reese’s in-hand. And if you need a little kick-start to get costume ready, try this …

How to look your best just in time for Halloween

If you’re planning to dress up in a skin-tight costume or have a special-themed event to attend, you want to make sure you look your best. Prepare your body and mind with these helpful grooming and wellness tips …

Happy Halloween! Have a safe and happy holiday!

Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock – Elisanth_.