‘Tis the season for holiday parties, family dinners, movies on the couch, trips to the mall, baking sweet treats and more. While all of this is good and fun, all too often families run short on opportunities to stay active. After all, the weather outside is usually cold and it gets dark so early that physical activity can easily fall to the wayside.
This behavior can cause families to fall into what Michele Levy, NASM-, ACE- and AFAA-certified Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor and Youth Exercise Specialist and CEO and Founder of Zing! For Kids. “Sitting for long periods of time is linked to risk of physical and mental health issues, poor nutrition choices, low physical activity, and increased antisocial behavior (why go out and chat when you can sit on your phone on the couch and enjoy some chips?),” she says. “On top of all of this, a sedentary period of time coupled with too much screen time can negatively impact your sleep, which we definitely need to feel rejuvenated!”
One of the best ways to prevent too much sedentary behavior is to encourage your family to participate in activities that require an exertion of physical movement and energy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children ages 6 to 17 do at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. While the winter months might make this challenging, we’re sharing some tips from fitness pros for how to get your entire family more active over the holidays.
Do a fun run
There’s always a holiday run happening somewhere, whether it’s for charity or simply a way to raise money for the town you live in. For families with older children, Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, suggests participating together. “A fun run can be a great family activity, which can pave the way for similar future activities,” he says. “Plus, with a run, it might be beneficial to have some practice runs or jogs in the days leading up to the run, which is a physical activity in and of itself.”
Go ice skating
Ice skating in the winter is one of the most popular physical activities—and for good reason. “It challenges your brain by testing your balance, and it gets you out of the house or apartment,” says Levy. “For those who are new to it, it encourages family members to bond and rely on each other to keep moving around the rink.” She recommends purchasing tickets in advance, since rinks tend to sell out during the holiday season, and planning a special treat for after the family activity that your kids can look forward to (hot cocoa, coloring, open up presents, etc.).
Play in the snowIf you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where it snows during the winter months, take full advantage, as playing in the snow is another family fun activity that encourages being active. “When there’s snow on the ground, we have to work extra hard to walk and move around, which forces us to use our core and muscles in our legs to stay balanced and stable,” says Stephanie Mansour, a Chicago-based weight loss coach and corporate wellness trainer. “While you get a workout in, the kids will have fun outside! “
If it does snow in your area, one family activity you will have to take on is shoveling. Why not make it a fun family activity? “Shoveling snow can be a team effort depending on the weather and where you live,” says Mansour. “Shoveling is a full body workout and it’s a chore that needs to be done. “Doing it with the whole family can make for a fun family bonding experience during the holidays.”
Walk around to see Christmas decorations
Find an area that has festively-decked out homes and take your family for a fun walk, whether that’s close by or a drive away. “It’s beautiful, it’s cheerful, great for all ages (on foot or with a baby carrier or stroller) and it can be done at your own pace,” says Backe. “Doing it once can lead to doing it again, especially if you didn’t finish seeing it all the first time around.”
Engage in “micro workouts”
Getting your family to complete a workout doesn’t have to take a whole lot of time. In fact, research shows that even minutes matter when it comes to movement. And this is especially true during the winter months, notes Tom Holland, exercise physiologist, certified sports nutritionist and fitness expert. “Do a fun 5-10 minute workout as a family every day, such as a bodyweight circuit-style workout,” he says. “You can find an almost infinite number of free workouts to follow along with online.”
Take a virtual workout class together
There are so many virtual workout classes available that can make for a fun family activity. Levy suggests making an entire morning out of it by revving up the excitement. “Make a yummy breakfast for everyone to enjoy at the table together with the plan that, at a certain time, everyone will meet in the living room for a virtual workout,” she says. “Once you get the whole family dancing in the living room, take a class together, as this gets you active and fosters awesome family bonding time.”
Move with Aaptiv
With countless workouts available, including pre-recorded walks, runs, and stretches, Levy suggests incorporating the app in a way that allows you and your family to fit in fitness together. “This is wonderful because you get to share a family activity you love with your kids and enjoy quality time together,” she adds.