As the weather changes, most of us seek warmth and shelter indoors. This is more challenging to do when you have kids. Family-friendly exercise activities are crucial because kids tend to get antsy pretty quickly without enough to do indoors. I know many parents who are often looking for alternative activities to screen time and how to fill their kids’ days in cold weather. For adults, we may unintentionally become less active, cuddling up on the couch and hiding from the cold indoors. The days become shorter, and we find ourselves snuggling up with movies instead of venturing outside. This year, I challenge you to mix it up! You can still find comfort and coziness in the evenings, but during the day try out some of the following family-friendly exercise activities for this winter!
There are so many fun, exciting winter sports that you might try with your family. Personally, our top two family-friendly favourites are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. You can easily rent the gear for very affordable prices and spend the day bundled up and playing outdoors! Winter sports are so versatile and offer great options for family-friendly exercise activities.
Snowshoeing: I like snowshoeing to going hiking in the snow. We generally carry our kiddo on our bodies (front carry, back carry or in his hiking pack), but you could also safely drag your little one in a sled or trailer behind you. Snowshoes fit and tighten over your snow boots. They are usually easy to get on and off, and they help you float on the snow as you trek along trails.
Cross-country skiing: This is a bit more challenging than snowshoeing but less difficult than downhill skiing if you can find flat, well-groomed trails. I am less inclined to fly down the side of a mountain with my kid on the back like you do with downhill skiing. I am more inclined to find flat trails and use an outdoor trailer or sled to bring my kid along. Cross-country skis look somewhat like downhill skis, and there is a specific technique for gliding, stopping, slowing, and turning. You might consider taking a lesson the first time you go out!
Hiking: If you live in an area with less snowfall, you most likely have access to your nature preserves and local hiking trails year-round. With good outdoor gear, you can snugly bundle up and enjoy a day hiking in the sun with the family. Don’t forget to bring durable boots and check the trail conditions before heading out!
Downhill skiing or snowboarding: If your kids are toddlers or older, you will probably be surprised at their natural inclination to do really well at these downhill activities. Starting them young will encourage them to continue this fun sport throughout their lives and be more physically active with their own families.
Fitness Challenge with Friends
Fitness Challenge with Friends With all of our smart technology these days, you’ll likely find that you have greater access to these types of challenges with friends. I always feel more motivated to exercise when I have friends joining or participating with me. If you are a walker or runner, try a mileage challenge to get a target number of miles under your feet each week.
If you enjoy classes at the gym, shoot for a couple of classes each week. You get the idea! You may find more joy and motivation to move your body with the companionship of having friends and family do it with you! Exercise is critical for remaining healthy during flu season and other times of increased exposure to illness. Check out my other post, Autumn Wellness Tips, for more ideas on how to stay healthy! A quick google search will help you find fitness challenges to do with your friends and sync with your smart technology!
After moving to Colorado, we realized just how popular climbing is in our area! This year, we hope to take a climbing class at our local gym and give it a try! If you have toddlers or older kiddos, this is a very family-friendly activity to try out. You will probably all have a lot of fun unless you’re scared of heights, then maybe this one isn’t for you. This is a very physical and whole-body exercise. Some of the fittest people in my life are avid climbers, and I admire their strength, endurance, agility, and ambition. Indoor and outdoor climbing is growing in popularity, but I recommend getting the basics down with indoor climbing before adventuring outside to unpredictable terrain. Check with your local gym or indoor climbing facility for beginner classes! Indoor climbing is at the top of my list of great family-friendly exercise activities.
In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the best way I could regularly exercise was to find channels on YouTube for workouts. I found a yoga channel that I still frequent often. I also found a strength training channel with 20-30 minute videos that got my heart rate up and allowed for a good muscle burn without taking an hour to exercise. If you are a parent, you know to cherish even 20-30 minute increments without interruption. You can find fitness challenges on YouTube as well, and they are usually free and shareable so you can include friends and family! Exercise is a wonderful way to manage anxiety. As a parent, anxiety may become a daily part of your life if you are not careful to acknowledge and manage your stress.
Check out my other post, 6 Natural Remedies for Anxiety – Mom Edition, for other natural ways to manage anxiety symptoms. Search your favourite workouts on YouTube, and see what you can find! Don’t forget to share it with friends and family to help encourage them to incorporate healthy habits into their days as well. You can also get your kids involved by letting them workout out with you as much as they can!
Try a New Class at the Gym
There are so many classes at our local gym that I look forward to trying out this winter. When the weather is nice, I try to be intentional about being outside. But when snow and inclement weather occur in the winter, my ability to stay indoors for exercise opens up significantly. I enjoy strength training and cardio classes. This winter I plan to attend a few barre classes and spin! You’ll find a fun community of regulars who are always excited to welcome new participants, and it keeps exercise fun and interesting to mix up your routine with novel classes. Many gyms offer a play area for kiddos so that parents have the option to go to gym classes.
If you are a postpartum mother, be mindful that the type of exercise you are engaging in is safe. Check out my other post, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Moms, for more information on how to know if you are ready for exercise! Call your local gym and find out what kind of family discounts you can get for a membership. You might also have the option to buy a punch pass or even have a free trial to see what you think before joining!
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About the author
Madison Cano is a beaming face behind Motherhood Wilderness originally from Texas. She picked up her life with her husband and moved to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. To become a Colorado hippy. She spends her days adventuring with her husband and little boy and sharing about their experiences to help other families get outside too! You’ll find her on social media or her blog talking about all things mother’s health and wellness, plant-based recipes, natural parenting, non-toxic products for your home, and more!
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