When it's cold outside, it's tempting to hibernate inside and let fitness fall by the wayside until the spring thaw.
But it's well worth rousing the whole family for some physical activity—inside or out—all winter long.
Not only does regular physical activity help reduce risk for health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer, but it helps with weight management, promotes healthy bones, muscles and joints, reduces stress, and improves feelings of well-being.
All that—and it's fun, too!
How Much to Move
For good health, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, but ideally, every day. For kids and teens, make that 60 minutes a day. The good news is that short periods of physical activity—even as little as 10 minutes at a time—accumulated throughout the day provide health benefits similar to longer periods of physical activity.
Family Fitness Ideas—Inside and Out
Team up to tackle snow. After a snowfall, form a snow-shoveling team to clear the driveway and sidewalks.
Get flaky. Build a snow family, stage a snowball fight, construct a snow fort, or see who can create the craziest-looking snow creature.
Workout in a winter wonderland. Enjoy winter pastimes such as walking on a snowy trail, ice skating, sledding, snowboarding, and cross-country or downhill skiing
Walk the mall. Take a few extra turns inside the mall before you start some serious shopping.
Hit the gym. Visit your community recreation center, YMCA or health club to swim, shoot baskets, attend fitness classes, walk the track or use the machines.
Stage a dance contest. Put on some music, roll up the rug and hold a "dance contest" to see who can come up with the funkiest moves.
Tune in to fitness. Do an exercise video together. Try something new such as kickboxing or salsa aerobics.
On the Food and Fluid Front
Pack healthy snacks. Keep the crew fueled up during winter activities by bringing nutritious and easy-to-eat snacks such as trail mix, cereal bars, whole-wheat pretzels, cheese sticks and resealable plastic bags filled with dry cereal, peanuts or raisins.
Don't forget fluids. Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water or other fluids before, during and after winter activities such as skiing, ice skating and snowboarding. Even though it's cold outside, the body perspires from these vigorous activities and winter's typical heavy clothing.
Kick back. After an invigorating winter workout, relax together with a bowl of light microwave popcorn or hot chocolate made with fat-free milk.