This guest blog is by Len Saunders, an American Heart Association spokesperson on childhood obesity.
During the summer, the kids are out of school, the weather is beautiful, the days are longer and you’re more motivated to get the family outside for some physical activity. During the winter, things change — the kids are tired from school, the weather gets colder, the days are shorter and you’re less motivated to brave the cold to exercise. But even when it’s frigid outside, you can find a way to stay active.
Here are seven ideas to help you stay fit as a family:
Commercial-cize: During the winter, the amount of TV time often goes up. Families may watch hours of television each night. That’s a lot of sedentary screen time. Teach your kids to commercial-cize. Each time a commercial comes on, commit to doing a bit of exercise as a family, such as pushups, jumping jacks or hula hooping.
Fitness scavenger hunt: Hide objects around your house for the children to find, just as you would in a traditional scavenger hunt. Whoever finds the most objects wins. But add a fitness twist: Attach a note to each hidden object with a quick exercise challenge. For example, “Do 10 jumping jacks.” The more objects they find, the more exercise they get!
Mall walk: If you have an indoor shopping center near you, take a family walk in the climate-controlled mall. There’s a lot of space to move around so the kids won’t feel as confined as they may at home. Use pedometers or fitness devices to track steps, and motivate the kids to set challenging goals.
Obstacle course: Set up a fitness obstacle course in your home to get the kids up and moving. Make it safe, but fun. The best part is, you don’t need any special equipment. Get creative and use everyday items around the house, such as furniture, steps, toys and boxes.
Fitness contract: Create family fitness goals and write them down as a contract. Ask family members to sign it to show their commitment to the program. For example: take a family walk every evening when the weather is not too cold, go to the local YMCA or recreation center a few times a week or commercial-cize when watching TV.
Family fitness video: Using one of your smartphones, film the family making an exercise video where you are the stars. Older kids can create the script and plan the production. Each family member can be featured doing one of his or her favorite exercises, such as pushups, sit-ups or jumping jacks. Once the video is done, you can play it back each day and follow yourselves through the workout.
- Dance party: Play music that gets you moving and have a dance-off. Let family members show off their favorite moves. Take turns being the leader and the others must copy his or her moves.
How will you keep your family moving this winter?
Len Saunders is a spokesperson for the American Heart Association on childhood obesity.