Wintry Ways to Keep Your Family Fit

Between the chilly weather and seasonal comfort foods, it’s easy to be lulled into hibernation mode in the winter. But as we age, it’s harder to rebound after taking a few months off from physical activity. So embrace the season and commit to staying in shape this winter by trying cold-weather sports or checking out a new indoor activity.

“Try to change up your routine to surprise your muscles,” says Diane H. Hart, president of the National Association for Health and Fitness in Albany, New York. “Weather is a challenge, but it shouldn’t be a barrier. You bundle up and you go out—maybe for not as long—but maintain that pattern.” Of course when it’s too cold (below 0° F), it’s wise to transition to an indoor track or pool.

Plus, you get a bonus exercising in cold weather months – not only do you combat holiday weight gain, but exercise also boosts your immune system, which can help you fight off those winter colds. And, just because it’s cold, don’t forget the rules of physical activity: Stay hydrated, protect your skin from the sun, and layer light, breathable clothing for comfort.

Try these calorie-burning activities to stay healthy:

Go skiing, snowshoeing or ice skating.

Because surfaces are slippery, you need to engage your core—and brain—to keep balance, posture and correct form. Unlike other sports that just work the arms or legs, these winter activities provide a total body workout, says Hart.

Build a snowman or igloo.

“It’s one of the best exercises because you are bending, stretching and rolling snow,” says Hart. “Plus, you’re being creative.” When people find enjoyable ways to keep active, they are likely to keep at it longer. Join your kids and have fun catching snowflakes on your tongue, making snow angels or going sledding.

Pitch in with shoveling.

As long as it’s done safely, shoveling snow can be as good as weight training, offering resistance exercise and strength-building moves such as squatting and lifting. Get your kids involved by buying child-size shovels and challenge them to see who can scoop fastest or make the biggest snow piles.

Don’t let winter be an excuse to ignore fitness and wellness. Use these tips to stay in shape all season long.