Fun Family Fitness Ideas to Try Until Spring Arrives

It's important to stay fit, but motivating kids to exercise can be a real challenge -- especially in winter. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that only one-third of children in this country are physically active every day. If you're concerned that your child isn't getting enough exercise this winter, you can bundle the family up in layers and pick fun outdoor activities or plan some enjoyable indoor alternatives. Here are a variety of winter activities your child will love.

Outdoor Winter Fun

It's important for both kids and adults to stay fit. Regular aerobic exercise may lower your risk of developing life-threatening conditions such as cancer, a diagnosis which 38.4% of Americans will see in their lifetime.

Winter sports are a great way to strengthen core muscles by balancing on slippery surfaces. Plus, they can help you burn a substantial number of calories. Some outside activities that will get your child outside:
  • Sledding: This is a great aerobic workout that uses several different muscle groups for steering while you fly downhill. You'll burn even more calories and work on your leg muscles just heading back up the hill with the sled.
  • Playing in the snow: This is an effective way to increase the heart rate. Have a snowball fight to get your family throwing and running. After the fight, set up a snowball tossing contest in which two players throw a snowball back and forth until it breaks up. You can torch between 200 and 400 calories in one hour of snow play.
  • Cross-country skiing: Since it puts your upper and lower body to work, this is one of the most beneficial forms of winter exercise. It's a tough workout and burns significant calories. Your family can ski in a park or field near your home, avoiding the costs of downhill skiing.
  • Building with snow: If you have big piles of snow to work with, your family can build huts, igloos, and even villages, which makes for a great workout. You can also get your heart pumping by creating a snow family.
  • Snowshoeing: This activity is a low-cost form of winter exercise and is especially affordable if you rent rather than buy snowshoes. You can enjoy snowshoeing in your own backyard or have an adventure with your family in the woods.
  • Ice hockey: As a winter workout, ice hockey offers health benefits that compare to those of ice skating. Join with friends or another family for a game. The competition might motivate adults and kids alike to keep skating, which will result in more calories burned. A person who weighs 150 pounds can use up as many as 200 calories in 20 minutes.
  • Walking and other everyday activities: Walking can be a year-round activity for everyone in your family. A winter walk through the park or woods can be a fun adventure. If you walk three miles per hour, you can use 112 calories in 30 minutes. Walking the dog and playing basketball also count as exercise. Help keep everyone safe by applying sandpaper or screwing hex screws on the soles of boots.

Indoor Winter Fun

You don't have to brave the cold every time you want to exercise as a family. You can have plenty of winter fun indoors, too. Good health habits are important to maintain year-round. Although 74% of Americans believe that an unattractive smile can adversely affect their professional standing, that's not the worst health issue you can struggle with in your lifetime. Keep moving in the winter, and you and your family will reduce your risks of serious illness.

Here are some ideas for indoor activities during the winter months:
  • Ice skating: If you have an indoor rink nearby, this is an inexpensive activity and a great way to stay fit. In just half an hour of continuous skating at moderate speed, a person who weighs 150 pounds can use up approximately 240 calories. Some rinks have an entrance fee, but others will have you pay just the cost of skate rental.
  • Dance parties: Turn up the stereo and get your family dancing in your living room, basement recreation room, or any room with enough space. You can dance along with a video game or just bop along to your family's favorite tunes.
  • Exercise stations: Make this a game your child will love. Choose spots for easy exercises like jumping jacks, skipping rope, and running in place. Send each family member through the exercise stations while using a stopwatch to time them. Try to inspire them to go faster every time they pass through.
  • Color walking: Make a path with colored paper that goes throughout your house, taping the paper down with masking or painter's tape for safety. Alternate colors and have each family member walk from room to room by stepping on their designated color. For adult players, make the spaces between their designated papers farther apart for an extra challenge.
  • Bowling: This is a great year-round activity that will get your whole family moving. It also helps your child develop their math skills by learning to keep score. You can play in a bowling alley or set up bottles or plastic pins at home.

As a nation, we're too sedentary. While about 11% of the U.S. population moved from one home to another in 2017, moving our bodies is another story. In reality, intensive physical activity is something we too infrequently experience. To keep ourselves and our kids healthy, we can all find enjoyable activities that require exercise inside or outside during the winter months. Whether your family braves the cold or stays indoors, there are many fun ways to stay fit in winter. Figure out what your family members will respond to and get moving today.

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