Marc Collopy – To many, winter is a time of rest and hibernation. Low light, bad weather, and cold temperatures offer an enticing excuse for huddling on the couch under a blanket with your family and vegging out as much as possible until spring. Combine that feeling with the holiday shopping, stressing, and feasting, and you have a season tailor-made for breaking that gym habit.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The holiday season often delivers an extra present of seven to 12 additional pounds that stick around during the rest of the winter months (if not longer!). Winter weight gain isn’t just a problem for adults — kids are less active in the cold months, too. If families don’t make a commitment to an active lifestyle every month of the year, they’ll find their work cut out for them come warmer weather.
Unfortunately, finding the motivation to stick with your regular exercise regimen and keeping your kids healthy, too, can be tough. But while you may not be able to stomach running outdoors or going to the gym in the winter, making the effort to do fun activities with your family is a great way to bond with your kids and stay healthy at the same time.
When It’s Cold, Get Creative
Staying active in the winter doesn’t have to mean trekking through the tundra to get to the gym or falling on the ice while attempting to jog all bundled up. Actually, working out in the winter can be a lot of fun if you think outside the box. Here are five ways to beat the cold, sneak in a little exercise, and have fun with the whole family.
1. Engage in some friendly competition.
Get your blood pumping with a little family competition at a laser tag park. Playing laser tag for just 13 minutes can burn 100 calories. Take the kids and play for an hour or two, and those calories will add up. Your kids will have a blast and not even know they’re getting fit at the same time.
Or take the family to a trampoline park — many include dodgeball areas and other fun games. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing how high they can bounce? And the exercise benefits are no joke — just six minutes of jumping is equivalent to running a mile.
2. Expand your idea of exercise.
Winter is the perfect time to explore less conventional ways of burning calories.
You might be surprised to learn, for instance, that bowling exercises your lower body muscles, burns calories, and speeds up your metabolism. While you might not be getting a ton of cardio, you will end up walking about a fifth of a mile every game — that can add up!
Shopping offers another unexpected method for sneaking in some exercise. Yes, shopping. In just one hour of browsing the mall, you can burn around 200 calories. To get even more out of a shopping spree, take the stairs instead of the escalator. Just a word of warning: If you bring the kiddos along, be prepared to say, “No,” as they beg you to buy them treats!
3. Try a new challenge.
Winter is as good a time as any to try something new. Indoor obstacle parks, for example, will get the whole family running, jumping, climbing, and crawling.
Rock climbing is another activity that can win over adults and kids alike. There’s no hiding the fact that this activity is exercise, though. It’s fun and intense. You’ll work both your muscles and your mind as you’re challenged to find the best path to the top.
4. Embrace the season.
OK, OK. Winter is cold. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up for months. Why not embrace the season and get fit while you’re at it? With the proper layers, even the most cold-averse can enjoy racing around an ice rink or taking a long winter hike (young kiddos will love throwing rocks on frozen streams — just trust me). Plus, one of the greatest joys of the season is warming up by a crackling fire, hot chocolate in hand.
Keeping fit during the winter does more than stave off excess pounds. Exercise can actually improve your immune system — a must when you’re stuck indoors with a lot of people and their germs. In addition, the endorphins that come from exercise can help keep your mood up during those gray, depressing winter days. So don’t let winter weigh you down. There are plenty of ways to get moving that don’t involve braving the busy gym or battling frigid temps.
Marc Collopy is co-founder and executive vice president of sales of Rockin’ Jump, a franchise of trampoline parks dedicated to combining exercise and fun in a safe, clean, family-friendly environment.