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Family Fun and Fitness: Snow Day

5 Ways to Get Active When It Snows

Skiing, ice skating and hockey may be top of mind when you think of winter sports, but there are plenty of ways to get active without the equipment or expense. While indoor options, such as a living room dance party, a bowling outing or a long “hike” through a local museum, are great ways to keep moving when the temperature drops, spending time outside has been shown to help fight seasonal affective disorder – all the better when it’s a workout too.

Snow can seem like a hindrance for outdoor activity, but when you and your family bundle up properly, it provides an opportunity for a variety of new options for fun and fitness.

1. Build It Big

Roll up your sleeves — metaphorically, of course — and get rolling on a snowman. Encourage your children to find materials from the far reaches of the yard to bring their creation to life, or turn the activity into a race to get their heart rates up. With your snowmen in place, set your family to the task of building them a home. Whether life-size or made miniature from buckets and bowls, building a snow fort is a great way to keep the exercise going, and it offers a slightly more complex construction task for older children. If you’re building a fort in which you can fit inside, be sure to go the open-roof route. Additional snowfall has been known to cause roofs and tunnels to collapse, creating unnecessary danger for your child.

Be sure to enforce mandatory breaks on your family “construction site” — it’s important to warm up to prevent hypothermia, and hot chocolate makes for great fuel!

2. Run Up the Hill

What may be your least favorite part of sledding — dragging your sled, saucer or tube back up the hill — is actually one of the best winter workouts: an aerobic exercise that’s great for your leg muscles, too. And the ride down also works multiple muscles as you steer and hold on. Plus, unlike skiing or ice skating, sledding and tubing require less coordination, balance and experience, making them ideal for all ages and levels of athleticism.

3. Work Out on the Ground

Snow angels are more or less horizontal jumping jacks, and if you put in the effort, they can get your heart going fast. Bundle your family up in their best, most waterproof snowsuits and get to making as many snow angels as your hearts desire. Then, you can decorate like you would a snowman with accessories scavenged from around the yard.

4. Get in the Game

From “snow” versions of your favorite sports, such as soccer, baseball, football and volleyball, to original options, there are any number of games to play in the snow. You can create a maze by stamping or shoveling out paths for your kids to follow, or set out on a scavenger hunt. You could try a snowball throwing contest for distance or as a variation of bocce ball, or make a golf course by packing down sections of snow and marking the holes with sticks. Tic tac toe with sticks and pinecones is easy to set up with minimum clean-up. With a little imagination, the options are endless.

Snowball fights are, of course, a seasonal staple, but be careful of ice, rocks or other debris in snowballs. Parents: Don’t be afraid of getting in on the action — it can even make it easier to supervise!

5. Fill Some Big Shoes

This one takes you a little further than your backyard, but it’s worth the extra work. If your child can walk, then snowshoeing is absolutely an option for fit family fun. Plus, kids can get a particular thrill from strapping on the big wide shoes. Find a park or nature trail that is open in the winter and go for a hike unique to the season. Snowshoeing is a great cardiovascular workout that strengthens your legs and activates your entire body.

Family fun in the wintertime doesn’t have to be confined to indoor activities. And fitness doesn’t have to rely exclusively on winter sports or chores (though shoveling is a good way to sneak in a workout). With a little imagination and a fresh snowfall, your family has endless options for fun and fitness.