Beat the Winter Blues with Family-Friendly Indoor Fitness Activities

Photo credit: Matheusreich (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

During those freezing cold winter months when you aren’t able to get outside and it’s hard to muster up the motivation to get out and hit the gym, it can seem nearly impossible to get any exercise in. Activity levels fall to one step above couch potato and we often wonder where the excess weight is coming from. However, not all is lost. You do still have a chance to maintain some form of an exercise routine even when the snow is falling and temps are ridiculously low.

Get moving with video games – this is not a suggestion to sit on the couch and stare at the television all day with a controller in your hand. Systems such as the Wii offer games where you can be up and moving while you are playing. Bowling, tennis, Wii Fit, and Wii Sports are a few games that will not only get your whole family laughing, but also keep everyone active while the snow blows outside.

Create an indoor obstacle course – use your furniture and everyday items around the house to create a fun, unique obstacle course that you all can enjoy. Make it an event the whole family gets involved in, and time how long it takes each person to complete it. The winner gets a prize or gets to choose how the next course will be set up.   Use your imagination and be as creative as you want.

Crank up the music – This may be the one and only time that you don’t yell at the kids to turn the music down. Blast some tunes as loud as you want and make room for a dance floor in the living room. Your whole family will enjoy showing off their moves and will get a workout while they are at it. Step it up a level and have each person create their own unique dance that they perform in front of the whole family.

Indoor bowling competition – turn a hallway into a bowling alley with a few simple steps. Empty soda or water bottles make great pins, and any ball will do. Keep score and see who is the bowling champion. This type of bowling is cheaper AND you don’t have to wear those awful bowling shoes while you play.

Scavenger hunt craziness – This is a perfect indoor activity to keep the kids busy, and it’s a great way to be creative and keep the imaginative juices flowing. Hide a variety of items all through the house and leave clues that the kids have to follow to find them. Whoever finds all items gets to choose a prize or decide what the family will watch on television that night.

Just because it’s cold and nasty outside doesn’t mean you have to give up all forms of exercise. There are many creative ways to stay active indoors and make memorable moments with your family as well. It’s one way to get your family looking forward to those cold, winter days rather than dreading them.



Outdoor Exercise and Cold Weather

Runners and joggers should take a few extra safety precautions when exercising outdoors during cold weather. Snow, ice and sleet increase the likelihood of a fall and injury. Running outdoors in cold temperatures can result in breathing difficulties. Runners and joggers are in danger of frostbite on the face, fingers and toes when the temperature drops below freezing. You can safely exercise outdoors if you take a few precautions. 
Photo Credit: Sebastian Ballard CC-BY-SA-2.0
Wear several layers of clothing instead of one bulky layer. The air between layers of clothing serve to insulate your body against heat loss. Remove a layer of clothing if you begin to overheat and put it back on if you start to get cold. Protect your hands and feet from cold or injury from frostbite in extremely cold weather by layering socks and gloves. Put on a pair of gloves and then a pair of mittens over the gloves to protect your fingers. If your hands begin to sweat, you can remove the mittens. Wear two pairs of socks to protect your feet and toes. You may need to wear running shoes a half size larger to accommodate bulky socks. Always wear a warm hat when outside during cold weather. A lot of body heat is lost through the head. Wear ear muffs or a thermal headband to protect your ears from the cold. 
When the temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or if there is a very cold wind chill factor, consider indoor exercise. If you choose to exercise outdoors during extremely cold weather, take extra precautions to protect your body from heat loss and frostbite. Wear a ski mask to protect your face from the cold and wind burn. Wear thermal undergarments when the weather is extremely cold (below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) and the wind is blowing.

Drink plenty of water during cold weather exercise. You may not notice that your body is becoming dehydrated when the air is cold. Run a little slower than you would in warm weather to help avoid sweating which can lead to chills. Running or jogging at a slower pace is also important to help avoid falls due to slick ice covered paths and sidewalks. Avoid exercising outside during rain and sleet because wet clothing can cause your body to lose heat. 

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