When the temperature drops and we don our winter apparel, we tend to spend more time inside than out. We slurp hearty soups and curl up to watch holiday movies. Our bikes, soccer balls, and skipping ropes are stored in the garage and we turn into cosmopolitan bears. We hibernate!Certainly keeping active with little ones in the winter can be a bit more work. Zipping up a toddler in a snowsuit only to have them announce “I need to pee!” moments later can be a drag, but finding fun in your family fitness during the cooler months doesn’t have to be. Sure your bikes are hiding until spring, but your sleds, skies, snowboards, skates and snowshoes are waiting to get in on the action!
Keeping active with your family during the chilly season can be done in two way: outside in the crisp air, or inside with some heating and less long underwear. Let’s discuss our outdoor options first.
Sledding or tobogganing.
I live near a large green space with a slopping hill that is used by local children (and adults!) in the snowy months for tobogganing. When the sun is out and the ground is covered in a fresh blanket of snow, the hill is busy and alive with laughter. There’s something about whizzing down a hill on a sled that screams winter fun for the whole family.
Skiing or snowboarding.
If you feel like turning the small tobogganing hill into a ski hill for a greater challenge, dust off your skies or snowboards, pile the family into the car and head north for a day on the slopes. Never skied or snowboarded before? Try a bunny hill or get a group rate on a lesson or two. You can rent equipment on site (don’t forget your helmet!) and end the day with a mug of hot cocoa. Yes, please!
If gliding is more your thing, lace up your skates and try cutting some edges on the ice. There are plenty of free outdoor rinks to discover and many have skates for rent. Just remember to go slow if you have taken a few years off, and always mind safety signs if skating on frozen ponds.
Snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
You can slow it down with snowshoeing or cross country skiing. But don’t expect to not work up a sweat! These activities use some of your biggest muscle groups and require much effort from you to get moving, so they are great for getting the heart rate up. You can rent equipment for the whole family and check out some trails. Many ski trails in Ontario are filled with animals and nature’s beauty during the winter months. Remember to pack your water bottle and some snacks!
Fun in your own backyard.
On the days when you just need to get a breath of fresh air and don’t have time for a family excursion, just head outdoors for a walk or run or tumble in the snow. Build a snowman. Build a fort. Wrestle around. Make snow angels. Just be silly together. Sometimes just navigating snow covered terrain is exactly what the doctor ordered to get you laughing and working up a sweat with your family.
Now, if bundling up is not your thing and you’d rather make snowflakes out of paper than have them fall on your face, have no fear. There are plenty of fun things to do indoors during the winter time. Let’s look at what activities we can do without a toque.
Organized indoor sports.
Many of us participate in activities that are generally played or practiced indoors all year round, or are moved inside when the temperature begins to drop. These sports may include swimming, basketball, soccer, racquet sports, sprinting, or volleyball (to name only a few!).
Other indoor activities.
Beyond organized sports, there are lots of indoor activities that the whole family can enjoy like indoor playgrounds, indoor rock climbing, indoor water parks, boxing, spinning, dance or yoga classes (again, only to name a few!). A quick search on Google can spring up a lengthy list of places that are a buzz with families looking to break a sweat together on a cool Saturday in January. I’m sure with a few more clicks of the mouse you could find some great groups rates too!
Hanging at home.
And if you don’t feel like venturing beyond your four walls, there are plenty of fun ways to turn up the activity level at home. There are lots of fun work out DVDs or smartphone applications that can get you all moving (or at least laughing at each other!). You can turn on some tunes and have a dance off. Or make a friendly competition and see who can do the most air squats in a 60 second commercial break or hold a plank the longest. In our home, we do yoga together and whenever I turn on the video, I look over to find my 2 year old in “downward dog” with a giant smile on his face.
Family fitness is important and should always be fun. Keeping active must be something you strive to do every day, even when the temperature drops. So pull on the snow pants and go frolic in the snow with your kids, or try indoor rock climbing for the first time, or turn up the tunes and dance the afternoon away with your loved ones. And when your family is laughing and enjoying whatever activity you chose for the day, don’t forget to take a picture or two!