Finding fun ways to exercise and bond with the kids during the holidays is an easy an inexpensive way to give the gift of love, attention, and endorsement of a healthy lifestyle. To begin, get bundled up and ready to brave the winter snow. There is something for all fitness levels.
Snow Man Building (Beginner)
In case anyone out there is unsure how to make a snowman: each family member packs a bunch of snow into a ball. Then you begin rolling that ball through the snow, picking up more and more size until you reach your goal. For an extra workout, roll fast and keep rolling until the base is taller than your child! Stack the snow-boulders three high and throw on some sticks and rocks for a face. How fast can your family make three complete snowmen?
Snow Angel Trail (Beginner-Intermediate)
Anyone in the family can participate in lying down in the snow and sliding arms and legs open and closed to make a classic snow angel. If you have an open park or field, you may incorporate a running trail of snow angels. It starts with the whole family making snow angels in a line facing the open field. The family member at the back of the line of snow angels stands up and runs to the front of the line, slides into the snow and begins making a new angel. The person in back runs forward as the person before them slides into the front and the whole family races to the other end of the field. Depending on the size of the park, perform several runs, back and forth for a great cardio workout.
Hill Sledding Relays—(Intermediate)
Create teams by pairing mom with son, and dad with daughter. Team members start with sleds at bottom of hill. On “GO!” teams race up the hill, hop into sleds, and streamline down the hill. Whoever reaches the bottom is winner. Depending on the size of the hill, perform 5 to 10 races back to back and get the blood really pumping.
Sled Pulling and Pushing—(Intermediate)
You don’t need a hill for this sled ride. Just let your child sit in the sled, tie a rope to the front, and pull them across the yard. Rest for a minute, then return as fast as you can. Make sure to switch the rope from side to side to encourage muscle balance. Perform 5 to 10 sled sprints for the perfect interval workout. Instead of rope, the parent can push from behind, which puts you in a position to challenge different muscles. Perform another 5 to 10 interval sled sprints.
Polar Bear Crawl—(Advanced)
Get on hands and feet, with knees close to ground but not touching. Create a start and a finish line about 20 yards apart. On “GO!” the whole family races through the snow like a polar bear! To improve coordination, try moving opposite limbs at the same time, and placing them down to the ground at the same time. To add challenge, perform a backwards polar bear crawl. Perform 5 to 10 race intervals for an incredible strength-endurance workout.
Stand beside your sled, squat down, and jump over your sled. Land into your squat again and immediately jump across your sled again. Repeat for 10 to 20 repetitions for a great plyometric workout. This can be performed in a variety of ways, including side-to-side jumps or forward-backward jumps. Use your imagination and have fun. If you don’t want to use a sled, pile snow mounds or simply place a stick on the ground. And if you don’t want to go outdoors, try indoor gift-jumping!
Some of these family fun exercises can be performed in warmer climates.
Building a sand fortress can be more exhausting than you think. Watch a three-minute demonstration.
Let your child lay on a big towel. Grab one end and pull your child along the beach for a 30-yard sprint. Rest and repeat 5 to 10 times for a great interval workout. Watch a two-minute demonstration.
In beach climates, the Snow-Angel Trails become Sand-Angels, Sledding Relays become Sand-Sled Relays, the Polar Bear Crawls become Desert Bear Crawls or Crab-walking, and Sled Jumping becomes Sand-Jumping.
This year, give the children a gift of imagination, fun, and health at the same time.