10 Healthy Family Activities for the Holiday Season
The winter may be cold and snowy for most of the country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy healthy family activities, both inside and out. However, as the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital points out, winter poses a few hindrances to exercise: “it’s cold, it’s dark earlier, and the couch is so inviting.”
Yet, the physical activity guidelines are the still the same all year long. The guidelines, according to Health.gov, suggest that children and adolescents, ages 6 through 17, do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
If you and your child’s movement is lacking this time of year, use these ideas to keep your family active during the holiday season. Bonus: you’ll work up an appetite for those big festive meals and mugs of hot chocolate.
Find a Festive Run
Find a local holiday run to do with your little one. These short, family-friendly races happen all over the country with a variety of different themes. You may find the Hot Cocoa Classic, the Eggnog Jog, or even the Ugly Pajama 5K.
To find a family-friendly holiday race near you, head to Active.com, where you can search by theme, location and date. Get your whole family signed up and don’t forget to snap some photos for next year’s holiday card.
Serve at the Local Food Shelter
Did you know nearly 57,971 family households were identified as homeless as of 2017, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness? Use this holiday activity to keep your kids on their feet and encourage them to get into the true holiday spirit: giving to those less fortunate than us.
To find a local shelter for serving, do a search at FeedingAmerica.org or FoodPantries.org. Once you find a location, you can specify what you want to do and register as necessary. If you already know of a shelter, simply call and get their volunteer schedule; you may need to sign up in advance.
Learn How to Snowshoe
Snowshoeing is a unique winter activity that your little one can’t experience any other time of the year. If you don’t have snowshoes, head to your local ski shop, where you may be able to find rentals. When you’re ready to head out, it’s time to find a trail.
Snowshoes.com has an entire section of their website dedicated to finding trails near you. Each trail listed includes details about difficulty and length, so you can choose the best option for your family. You can also find directions to the trailhead, which can be challenging to find otherwise.
Go Ice Skating at the Local Pond
Ice skating is a magical winter activity for kids—and one that gets them moving between holiday feasts. If you don’t have a local outdoor skating pond, head to the nearest multi-use sporting facility, where you can likely find an indoor skating rink. Don’t forget to check for a deal or discount with sites like Groupon, which often includes the rentals as well.
If your little skater loves it, consider signing them up for a winter skating program or skating camp so they can stay healthy and active all winter long.
Take a Winter Walk
If you can’t or don’t want to snowshoe, take a winter walk instead. The world looks and sounds different in the winter, with branches weighed down under snow and new songs from cold-season birds. Turn your winter walk into an active learning session that’s also fun with these simple ideas from Today’s Parent:
- Play bird feeder: Put a small amount of bird seed in your child’s hand and have them stand like a statue for a bird to take a nibble.
- Play I Spy: Make a list of items to look for before leaving on your walk like breath, icicles or animals and then look for them along the way.
- Track your walk: Use a camera to take photos of your snow tracks and the tracks of other animals. With the help of a little research, can you discover which animals left which tracks?
Set Up A Winter Obstacle Course
The snow makes it easier than ever to create a fun obstacle course for this healthy family activity. You can use as much creativity as you’d like, and if you’re not sure where to start, take a page from The Inspired Treehouse:
- Make a snow angel.
- Trudge through a big pile of snow.
- Throw a snowball at a target.
- Move 5 shovelfuls of snow from one designated place to another
- Pull or push a friend, sibling, or parent on a sled to cross the finish line
Enjoy Parent-Child Yoga
If you’d rather stay inside, give parent-child yoga a try. Start by talking with your local yoga studios, many of which offer specialty classes for young yogis. If it’s just too cold to head outside, do yoga at home with online programs like Gaia Kids Yoga.
Not only will this get your little on moving, but yoga is just as healthy for their body and mind as it is for yours, according to Karen Fabian, Founder of Bare Bones Yoga. She explains that the benefits include:
- Develop body awareness
- Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way
- Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
- Build concentration
- Increase their confidence and positive self-image
- Feel part of a healthy, non-competitive group
- Have an alternative to tuning out through constant attachment to electronic devices
More: 5 Healthy Post-Yoga Snacks for You and Your Little Yogi [Will be published this month]
Play “Pyramid Knock Down:
This one is simple and Active Kids explains the setup: Start by finding 9 cans, plastic cups or buckets. Build three bases of snow, two feet high and three yards apart. Next, make your pyramids and mark the throwing spot about 20 feet away.
Finally, have your child roll up as many snowballs as he or she can and start throwing. If you have more than one child, turn it into a competition and create two pyramids. Whoever can clear their pyramid first wins. When it’s over, the kids can rebuild, roll some more snowballs, and go again—best out of 10!
If you have a hill nearby, this healthy family activity is perfect for everyone. Pile sleds into your car, get bundled, and head out for an afternoon of competition and whirring downhill rides. But don’t carry your little one back to the top—instead, make it even more healthy by having races uphill to see who can reach the starting line first.
If you’re not sure about the nearest sledding hill, check out SledRiding.com. Just choose your state and browse the options, from private properties to public parks.
Start a Holiday Neighborhood Wiffle Ball Game
Winter may seem like an thodd time for a wiffle ball game, but nothing gets you ready for a big holiday feast like running around a baseball diamond. The best part is: the snow makes it easy to create the lines of your field, and with snow pants and boots, everyone can slip and slide their way around the bases.
Make it even more fun by making a trophy that goes home with the winning family. All year long, the family gets to show off their big win.