It’s dark, it’s cold, the kids are bored, and everybody (including you) could use a little exercise and a break from staring at the TV screen. A healthy workout is especially important during the winter, not only to burn calories and keep muscles and organs in shape, but also to improve your mood. Vigorous activity releases endorphins that make people feel better, and any activity that requires thinking, learning, and strategy is especially valuable to bring your brain into your workout for full-body wellness. Below are a few ideas for exercise in the house and out of it, for families with kids or anyone looking for a change in routine.
Climb the Walls
Check out your local climbing gym. Indoor rock climbing and slack lining are among those activities that exercise your brain so you don’t even realize you’re getting a serious workout until the next day when your muscles complain. Very little training is required, and helpful professionals will be there to make sure everyone has a good time and goes home in one piece. Many gyms offer day passes, and some have special hours and activities for kids. If you’ve got a kid’s birthday coming up this season, the climbing gym is also a great venue for a party.
Get Up and Dance
Dancing is another excellent workout for mind and body. Many gyms and fitness centers offer dance classes; you can get your groove on to anything from salsa to Bollywood. Dance is a fantastic cardio workout, and it improves memory, coordination, and balance. You can do it alone, with a partner, or with a group of any age. You can just as easily dance at home, either with kids or all on your own, so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing your awesome moves. Push back the furniture, put on something fun and upbeat, and let your inner dance diva out to play.
Cleaning your house may not qualify with all constituents as a “fun” activity, but you can make it enjoyable with the addition of great music. Cleaning works up a sweat, and it involves all your major muscle groups. Get your kids involved doing something new and different: instead of asking them to clean the tub, have them create a chemistry experiment with baking soda and vinegar in the bathtub, and have them see what a great job that does of scrubbing away soap scum. Invite them to mop the kitchen floor. After all, how often do kids get a chance to spill water all over the floor on purpose? Also, many young grade-schoolers really like to use the vacuum, including all its fun hoses and attachments. Work alongside your children, play energetic music, and offer an incentive at the end of the day besides the satisfaction of a sparkling clean house. Homemade hot cocoa or frozen fruit smoothies make great low-fat rewards for all.
Play some Twister! It’s a fun time for a group of kids on a cold day, and if you don’t think of Twister as exercise, give it a try sometime. If you and the kids aren’t in to Twister, try clearing some space for a makeshift yoga studio. If you’re out of shape or have forgotten all your asanas, there are plenty of great yoga videos available for free on YouTube.
Embrace the Chill
When nothing else appeals to you, bundle up and head for your nearest indoor ice skating rink. Take a whole gang of kids and practice figure eights, or just practice staying vertical. Either way, it’s a great workout and fun for all ages. Skating works muscle groups that don’t see much use at any other time, and it’s invigorating. Plus, if you introduce a kid to the ice, you may be opening the door for a future Olympian or Stanley Cup winner.
Winter doesn’t have to be a time of laziness and boredom, and exercise doesn’t have to be a structured activity. If you enjoy doing it (or need to get it done) and it gets your heart pumping and endorphins flowing, then it counts as physical activity. Put down the boring excuses, and get up and move!