By Jessica Remitz for Discover and Play
With packed school year schedules and long winter days keeping everyone indoors, it can seem difficult to get your family together for dinner, let alone an afternoon of exercising. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to lure even the most preoccupied teen or harried spouse off of the couch and into the great outdoors (or indoor gym).
Here are a few of our favorite activities for families to get fit together:
- Hiking: A perfect activity for families of all ages, hiking can be done virtually anywhere, and can be adapted for fitness levels of every kind. Find a local park or trail in your area, or check out this list of national park hikes. Make a day of it by packing plenty of water and healthy snacks like dried fruit, nuts and jerky. Pull Fido off the couch and bring him along too — just check the rules regarding dogs on your local trails.
- Skiing: Make the most of wintry days by spending an afternoon on the slopes. If you’re just starting out, take a beginner’s course to learn the ropes, then try a few trails that everyone can go down together. Consider taking a few trips to the mountain to build up your skills and total body strength. Find a mountain near you at http://skicentral.com/.
- Yoga: Busy families barely get any time to relax, but with some scheduled time on the mat, you’ll be forced to take a breath and stretch out those weary muscles. Challenge each other to try new poses, and watch as your kids improve their flexibility, balance and concentration. As an added benefit, practicing yoga can be especially helpful to kids with special needs.
- Ultimate Frisbee: Get your heart pumping with a fast-paced game of Frisbee with the family. Learn the official rules and sign up for competitions, or just enjoy tossing it around in your backyard, local park or rec center gym. You’ll work up a sweat chasing after the Frisbee while helping your kids develop their hand-eye coordination.
- Ice Skating: Sign up for classes at your local rink or take advantage of free skating areas. Try spending one afternoon every week out on the ice, and once you learn the basics, host some pickup hockey games with other families and friends. You can keep the fun going throughout the year by investing in rollerblades or checking out a nearby roller rink.
Jessica Remitz is a freelance writer and web producer living in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in a variety of health and lifestyle websites including Spafinder, FitPregnancy and Everyday Health. To see additional writing samples and learn more about Jessica’s work, visit her website.