Who wants to exercise when it's cold and dark outside? But even in winter getting outdoors can put you in a better mood. It may even improve your concentration.
So bundle yourself and your kids up in layers. Be sure everyone's heads and hands are covered. And, take some extra time warming up before you exercise in the cold. Then, try these fun activities to keep you and your family in motion through the winter months.
___Walk. Walking is easy and requires little more than a good pair of shoes. You can burn calories, increase blood flow, and give your heart and lungs a boost just by putting one foot in front of the other. Walking is also a great stress reducer.
___Hike. Hiking affords many of the same benefits as walking, and gives you the chance to explore new vistas.
___Run. Vigorous exercise like running slows the effects of aging and appears to help fend off disease and disability.
___Skate, Snowshoe, or Ski. Not only will they get you outdoors, winter sports can involve the whole family and as many friends as you want to include.
___Geocache. Take your family on a high-tech treasure hunt. You'll need access to the Internet and a GPS device. The GPS on your cell phone will work just fine. First, look up what treasures are hidden in your area on the official Geocaching web site, then head out to find them. Geocaching gives kids a chance to learn about the outdoors, problem solving, and teamwork.
Indoor Winter Fitness Tips
What can you do during a snowstorm or when it's just too cold to go outside? Here are some indoor fitness tips for your family.
___Yoga or Pilates. Yoga is a great way for adults and kids to keep muscles limber and take a stress break. Pilates builds strong core muscles and can improve posture. You can find yoga and Pilates classes at a gym, in a studio, or get a DVD you can follow at home.
___Swim. If you have access to an indoor pool, jump in for your mental and physical health. Not only is swimming the most popular athletic activity in the U.S., swimmers tend to live longer and have better moods than people who do not exercise.
___Bowl. Fun, social activities like bowling or dance class can keep things interesting. If someone in your family has an "exercise allergy," bowling can make physical activity less of a chore.
___"Exergames." Researchers looked at two games, Nintendo's Wii Boxing and Konami's Dance Dance Revolution. It turns out some games can boost fitness, within limits. They do not offer as many health benefits as playing an actual sport, but highly active exergames are a good way to get moving on a cold or rainy day.
___Take the Stairs. Every time you choose the stairs over the elevator or escalator, you burn more calories and reduce your risk of heart disease. So take the stairs at every opportunity. And get an added benefit: Better legs for summer!