Home For The Holidays: Ways To Get Your Family Up And Active

The holidays can be a tricky time for athletes. Not only are regular routines completely upended by travel, parties, and other commitments, but weather (at least in the Northeast) can start getting in the way of our favorite outdoor activities. And then there’s family.

Unless you’re from a long line of athletes, you’ve probably heard one of the following at least once (or a thousand times) from various parents, siblings, or cousins: “Can’t you skip the gym today?” “You’re going to run how far?” “You’re making me feel guilty.” “You’re crazy!” And let’s face it: Most people, whether they’re family or not, see the holidays as a time to eat, drink, and be merry. In other words, you’re expected to sit back, relax, and “stop all that sweaty nonsense.”

But these things are not mutually exclusive. You can enjoy family time and still get your heart rate up. In fact, since the holidays are all about family time, the best way to do this is to get your family involved in some active pastimes. The more of your family members you can get on board, the easier it will be to stick to a healthy routine. Therefore, here are some indoor and outdoor activities that, with a bit of luck and some loving prompting, can get the whole family up and moving during the holidays.

Indoor Activities

Video Games: At first, this may sound like sedentary activity, but if you have a console that supports them, there are a number of video games that can get people off the couch. Dance Central (Xbox One), ExerBeat (Nintendo Wii), Everybody Dance (PS3), Dance Dance Revolution II (Nintendo Wii), and Just Dance 4 (Nintendo Wii, Wii U) will not just get the (dance) party started, but can feed folks’ competitive nature, too. Then, if you want to ratchet up the competition, Mario Tennis Aces (Nintendo Switch), Kinect Sports Rivals (Xbox One), and Sports Champion (PS3) offer a variety of “sports” that can make you work up a sweat!

Traditional Games: If you’re not as into tech, there are several more traditional games that can double as physical activities, too. Twister is a fun and simple game where the “board” is a mat on the floor, and you follow color-coded “right hand, left foot” instructions. (Spoiler: by the end, everyone’s limbs wind up in a tangled heap. Laughter usually ensues.) For something a tad less physical, a game like charades is all-inclusive, forces you out of your chair, and everyone—regardless of athletic prowess—can get in on the fun.

Scavenger Hunt (or Hide-and-Seek): A scavenger hunt is a great way to get people roaming around the house, and the more competitive your family is, the more you’ll have to hustle to win. You can hide things in advance, Easter egg hunt-style, or you can make it more of an “I Spy” game by giving everyone a list of item categories they need to locate within the house and having them take photos of what they find (e.g., a liquid used to clean, something alive and green, a piece of furniture with three legs). Alternatively, if you have limited prep time or will be engaging very young kids, just make it a straightforward game of hide-and-seek.

Bowling: Bowling is a great way to get your kinfolk out of the house if the cooks need time and space to work or people are simply getting stir-crazy. It’s fairly inexpensive, and everyone gets the chance to move their body, while still spending quality time together.

Outdoor Activities

Take a Walk: If you don’t mind the cold—or live in a climate where it doesn’t get as cold—the easiest way to get the family out of the house is to take a walk. If your neighborhood has sidewalks, you can just step out your front door and stroll around the block, and if you have kids, you can pick a destination like a local park. The nice thing about taking a walk is that most, if not all, of the family can participate. Plus, you can do this before eating, after eating, or both!

Sledding: Feeling a little more adventurous? Have little ones in tow? Go sledding! This, of course, only works if there is snow on the ground and if you live near some sort of hill, but if the conditions are right, sledding is an incredible cardiovascular activity. When else will you successfully convince children, much less yourself, to march up the same hill over and over again?

Ice Skating – Another fun wintry activity to do with kids is ice skating. It’s less messy than sledding, and is typically fairly inexpensive. Just make sure you check the schedule at your local rink, because around the holidays, it might be closed or have limited hours.

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