How to Keep the Family Active When it's Cold Outside
5 Ideas for the Whole Family to Stay Healthy and Have Fun this Winter
Sue Kirchner is a family fun coach and weekly contributor to Patch.com. Sue and her family fun ideas have been featured on TV, newspapers, magazines, blogs, as well as her own family fun resource blog ChocolateCakeMoments.com.
Now that the snow and the cold have settled in for the winter, how is your family going to stay active? With gym class at school eliminated or practically eliminated and kids spending way too much time in front of computers or TV, it's hard to make sure they will get a good 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Put some freezing temperatures on top of that and it becomes even more of a challenge. But let's not forget us parents! We need just as much physical activity to stay healthy.
According to Michelle Obama and the U.S. Government Sponsored Let's Move campaign:
Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.
Knowing that it's hard to carve out time in the day to exercise individually, why not get active as a family? It's a great way to spend quality time together, be active, and improve your mood. Here are 5 ways the whole family can get active together.
1. Get Outside and Play. Even thought it's cold outside, the fresh air and Vitamin D from sunshine will do you and your kids a whole lot of good. Building a snowman, sledding, and snowball fights definitely help burn calories and give you some exercise. Check out these Fun Family Activities to Do in the Snow for some inspiration. Even if you have a new baby or young toddler in the house, you can get outside and have fun. The National Wildlife Federation put together a great Outdoor Winter Discovery Guide that has fun ideas and great tips for getting outside safely with baby.
2. Take up a winter sport together. There are so many winter sports that your family could try together this year. If needed, take some lessons and learn to snowshoe, ski, ice skate, or cross-country ski, as a way to get outside and work up a sweat.
3. Take advantage of the Gym. Are you members of your local YMCA or Park District? Have a family gym membership? Instead of going and working out by yourself, take the whole family and get active together. Grab a basketball and shoot around one afternoon or take advantage of family swim night and have fun in the pool. I know our YMCA has a play area that lets the kids climb walls, play Dance Dance Revolution, play ping pong and run around on the climbers. Adults are welcome to play, too! Our YMCA even has a nursery if you want to drop baby off and go play with your older kids. They also offer a Family Zumba class, if you want something more structured. Ask them what's available for your whole family. I bet you'll be surprised at the options.
4. Walk the Dog. To me, the best part of having a dog is that it forces you to get outside and exercise. Even though it may be cold and dark, have the whole family bundle up and walk the dog for 20 - 30 minutes after dinner to walk off those calories. Give the kids flashlights and let them play flashlight tag. Stare at the moon and the stars which look stunning in winter. I know my husband and I relish this time to talk to each other uninterrupted.
5. Use your Garage. Plan some fun active games the whole family can do and use your garage as the "arena". Grab some brooms and a sponge to play make-shift hockey. Kick the soccer ball around. Throw the football through a hoop for points. Have a jump rope, hopscotch, and hula hoop competition. Set up an obstacle course for your kids to race around in their tricycles. Sure, it might be cold in the garage but it's dry and not windy. Here's how to Host a family Winter Olympics.
How do you keep your family active in the winter?