Fun Tips for Exercising With Your Family This Winter


With all the craziness that comes with the holiday season, exercise often gets a lower priority. The cold and ice can make jogging and cycling more difficult. That said, making physical exercise part of you and your family’s routine is important. Aside from the often-espoused physical benefits, exercise offers a platform for families to grow closer, have fun and share experiences.

Here are some ways to get the family together and moving:

Walks – Sometimes they are with a dog, sometimes they are in the woods and sometimes they are just around the block a few times. Regardless, having a family walk is something that isn’t overtaxing, is as much social as physical and can often be a slightly different experience each time you go. Even if you walk the same course every day, you never know who you might run into, what wildlife you might see or what may happen. Just getting out is the first step to creating a new experience.

Dance Night – This could be scheduled or just impromptu. Either way, when the music cranks up, people, especially kids, tend to get moving. Once the movement starts you never know where it is going to lead – who knew that little Benny could go Gangnam Style.

Turning Chores Into Games – For the smaller children, mom can sort the laundry and the kids can play “Guess who’s this is.” Clothes are held up and the children have to guess who owns which (this sounds easy, but it gets hard when you get to the socks). Once the owner is identified, they get to fold that piece of laundry. A more active chore would be to have them help clean up the yard. This could even be combined with a scavenger hunt. A prize needs to be found, but before you can find it, eight sticks have to be picked up and stacked at the end of the driveway. Tell the kids that as they are looking for the sticks, they should keep their eyes open for the prize so they can go for it right after their eighth stick. Also let them know that this will be used for seeding purposes for the Easter egg hunt this coming April.

Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean all the activity has to move indoors. And it doesn’t mean that the kids get to have all the fun outside. Outdoor activities can include:

Snowball Fights – If you have a big family, split up into teams. If not, get some neighbors involved or just have a one on one. Build a fort out of snow and maybe some of the sleds and see who can defend the fort. Careful, no ice-balls and no throwing at the head.

Ice Skating – There is nothing more authentic than skating on a frozen pond. It brings the sport back to its roots when skates were made out of animal bones and skating was a means of transportation. On ponds and lakes, you don’t have to go around in circles, you don’t have tons of people holding onto the sideboards trying to stand up and you can have fires nearby to stay warm. Make sure the ice is fully frozen and that any thin areas are blocked off. If you don’t have a frozen pond nearby, ice rinks are the next best thing. You get music going, you can rent skates if you don’t have them and the snack bar is right there.

Sledding – How many family members can fit on one toboggan? Who is going to make it down all the way and who is going to fall off, or get pushed off, halfway? Is there a golf course nearby that has a huge open hill? That always seems to work well and the trees are more likely to be on the sides rather than in the middle.

Snow Angels – The classic. Everyone should make it a point to make at least a few snow angels every year. It’s something fun for young and old. For the young it’s just fun. For the older folks it’s a way to hedge, you never know if someday you may need a few friendly angels.

For the older family members who are serious about their fitness, here are a few ideas that are a bit out of the ordinary:

  • Aerial Silks: Made popular by Cirque du Soliel performances in which skilled aerial dancers use sheets of fabric to spin, drop and contort themselves high above the ground, aerial silks have become a new type of exercise. While it is an art that can take years to perfect, aerial silks classes can help rookies develop a strong core.
  • Punk Rock Aerobics: Termed “the exercise sensation created for the misfit,” punk rock aerobics classes give you an arena in which to act out your rock star fantasies with other like-minded individuals while getting fit at the same time. Punk rock aerobics classes use cinder blocks as weights and are often held in nightclubs during off hours. Classes include two 20-minute “waves” of both choreographed and freestyle moves, followed by 20 minutes of strength work — all performed against a backdrop of blaring punk rock favorites.
  • Krav Maga: Developed in Israel in the 1940s, Krav Maga was the official hand-to-hand combat system of the Israeli army. This martial arts method emphasizes using the body’s instinctive reactions to defend against an attack. Now studios are popping up all over the U.S., and even the average Joe (or Jane) can learn to protect himself (or herself) or just use it to stay in shape. The hour-long classes include a lot of kicking, punching and “exhaustion drills” designed to do just that, exhaust.

If the Krav Maga and Aerial Silks classes seem a bit much, perhaps a little get away would be in order. How about a trip to the Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa, near the Lake District Wildlife Park in Keswick, England? Here yoga enthusiasts can do yoga with lemurs. According to the hotel, “lemoga” helps guests to feel at one with nature while reducing stress and blood pressure levels. According to Richard Robinson, manager of the Lake District Wildlife Park, “When you watch lemurs they do some form of the poses naturally — that typical pose warming their bellies in the sunshine.”

So rather than letting the holidays distract you and your family from exercising, it makes more sense to get in the sharing spirit and exercise with others. When it comes to exercise, there is something for everyone, and something for everyone to share with others.

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