Two Men In Boat
Boating of all types has become more popular during the pandemic.

5 New (Distanced) Sports to Try this Fall

Whether you’re in school or not, fall often feels like the start of a new year, and the right time to learn something new. And in the current pandemic environment, you may be looking for alternatives to your usual gym routine or fitness classes. These five fitness activities are not only fun and healthy, but will challenge you to get out of your comfort zone. And all can be done alone or with friends but either way allow you a safe bubble.

1. Boating

Boating is seeing a sudden popularity spike, with kayak and canoe sales reported at an all-time high. And no wonder, since kayaking and canoeing offer opportunities for both solitude and socializing, since it’s possible to be in your own boat, yet out on the water with friends. Canoeing and river/lake kayaking are also among the easiest activities to start – all you really need is water safety instruction and a paddling demonstration. (Ocean kayaking is another subject, and requires instruction.)

2. Surfing

There’s a reason why you see more and more surfers every time you go to the beach. Surfing and boogie boarding are soaring in popularity, and surfing communities are becoming more inclusive and welcoming to beginners. While you will need surf lessons to get started, surf classes and camps are operating in ways that don’t require close contact, and one-on-one lessons are available as well. You can find surf schools in pretty much any local beach town; women may prefer a women-only class, and kids often benefit from being in a class without adults.

3. Cycling

With many preferring to avoid public transportation and fewer cars on the roads, cycling is having a heyday – so much so, in fact, that many areas are experiencing bike shortages! That doesn’t mean you can’t find one, though – bike shops and neighborhood groups have risen to the occasion by refurbishing and repairing older models and offering them for sale or even give-away. (For more information on this, see how to choose your first bike.)

4. Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Like boating, SUP is another sport that’s having a moment, with paddleboard sales at an all-time high. And no wonder – there’s no better way to get exercise and get away from it all than out on the water. And if you’ve never been on a stand-up paddleboard, fall is a good time to try, as summer winds die down and the water calms. Here are some more tips for trying out this popular new sport.


5. Living Room Dancing

Take advantage of another pandemic fitness trend with the availability of online dance classes, which let you try out zumba, salsa, Caribbean dance, and any other type you can think of from the comfort (and privacy!) of your own living room. How to find an online dance class? A quick search on the type you’re interested in is one way, or you might ask friends or go to the website of a local dance studio and see what they’re offering. This way you can support a local business as well.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.