Are you fit for autumn?

PUBLISHED: 23:02 14 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:14 20 February 2013

Mountain biking at Kielder

Mountain biking at Kielder

As the summer starts to fade it would be easy to just curl up and hibernate until the dark days of winter have passed. <br/>But autumn is arguably the most spectacular month and a bit of exercise - whether it's a gentle stroll through crunchy fallen ...

1. Climb Roseberry Topping

Dig out some comfy shoes and see Teesside from above. The 6.5km (4 mile) walk to the summit and back takes approximately two to three hours and has stunning views over the Tees Valley and Yorkshire Dales.

Walking uphill is a great way to burn extra calories, boost self esteem and re-charge your batteries. It's good for the heart and lungs and can even reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Newton-under-Roseberry, North Yorkshire, Tel: 01642 328901

2. Take up dancing

Whether you've been inspired by Strictly Come Dancing or just want to shed a couple of pounds - dancing is a good way to get a new lease of life once the dark nights start drawing in.

Salsa, ballroom and line dancing classes are springing up all over the North East. As well as a fun way to spend an evening and meet new people, it strengthens the heart and lungs, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and improves balance and flexibility.

3. Go golfing

It's no coincidence that golfers always have a healthy glow. As well as being a great stress reliever, golf helps the entire cardiovascular system, strengthening the heart, lungs and immune system. Being an outdoor sport, it also provides vitamin D, essential for warding off winter blues and symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

There are some great courses to choose from. For instance, Slayley Hall in Northumberland, has stunning views over the Tyne Valley, while Macdonald Linden Hall Golf & Country Club has the bonus of the Northumberland countryside and the North Sea.

Slayley Hall Golf & Country Club, Northumberland, Tel: 01434 673350

Seaham Harbour Golf Club, Durham

Tel: 0191 581 2354

Macdonald Linden Hall Golf and Country Club

Tel: 0844 879 9084

4. Climb Souter Lighthouse

Test your stamina and tone up your leg muscles, climbing the 76 steps to the top of Souter Lighthouse, Sunderland. The world's first electric lighthouse, visitors can explore the Engine Room and lighthouse keeper's living quarters.

It's the climb to the top however, that makes the trip worthwhile. Towering over two and a half miles of beach, cliff and grasslands, the tower has fantastic views of the Durham coastline, the mouth of the Tyne, Cheviot Hills and Roseberry Topping.

Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn, Sunderland

Tel: 0191 529 3161

5. Ski in Sunderland

If the thought of being struck by a ginormous snow boulder has always put you off skiing, head to Silksworth Sports Complex and Ski Slope in Sunderland. Complete with three dry ski slopes, it offers year round recreational skiing, snowboarding and tuition for all ages. Devotees can even hire a slope for a birthday or anniversary party.

Skiing is good for the lungs and heart, toning your stomach, arms, thighs and bottom. The only difficulty of course, is keeping your balance...

Silksworth Sports Complex and Ski Slope,

Tel: 0191 553 5785

6. Cycle in Guisborough Forest

Even a small amount of cycling can have huge health benefits, from reducing the risk of stress, high blood pressure and heart disease to improving stamina, balance and co-ordination.

Guisborough Forest has views over Teesside and Eston Hills or check out the cycle paths at Herrington Country Park, Sunderland. If you're a historian at heart, follow St Bede's Trail in Jarrow and Sunderland, the route of seventh century pilgrims.

Guisborough Forest and Walkway Visitor Centre, Tel: 01287 631132

For further routes visit

7. Take up Tai Chi

The ancient Chinese art is slower and less strenuous than a lot of exercises and more and more people are discovering the benefits. The combination of deep breathing, relaxation and gentle movement is ideal for older people wanting to keep joints supple or regain balance after a fall.

Tai chi can also help combat heart failure, diabetes, respiratory problems and stress.

Shen Tai Chi School, Stockton and Darlington (pictured)

Contact Pam Hedge: 07747818184

Or visit

8. Discover the Craster Coastline

There is nothing like a bracing sea walk to lift your spirit and it doesn't get better than the dramatic Craster coastline in Northumberland. A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, follow the coastal footpaths through the fields to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

Walking can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis. It can even reduce anxiety, stress and the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

9. Go mountain biking in Kielder Water and Forest Park

For rugged wilderness, peace and tranquillity - Kielder Water and Forest Park is hard to beat and one of the best ways to get around is by mountain bike.

The new 14.2km 'blue' trail is ideal for beginners, while the 18.7km 'red' route is slightly tougher, offering views from coast to coast from the Scottish border on a clear day. Mountain biking is a good way to stay active and enjoy the fresh air. It can also help to significantly reduce the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland

Tel: 01434 220616

10. Try bird spotting in the Derwent Valley

Grab a notebook, waterproof pen and a pair of binoculars and go bird spotting in the Derwent Valley. If the spectacular scenery and a chance to get a rare glimpse of a Red Kite isn't enough, the walk itself is great exercise - working your leg muscles, boosting metabolism, reducing stress and raising energy levels.

Derwent Valley Trust

Tell us of any unusual ways in which you keep fit. Write to North East Life at PO BOX 199, Hexham, NE46 9AG or email

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