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Family Fitness through the Frost: 5 tips to stay active in cold weather

It was a sight my husband swore he would never see in his life, but there I was, running a mid-December Stocking Run 5k, part of a winter running series in Boulder. I should back up a bit. One thing you should know about me: I HATE being cold. Summer is my favorite season of the year. If winter cannot be banned outright, I believe it should be spent bundled in blankets next to a roaring fireplace (gas or wood, I don’t discriminate), fortified with hot chocolate by the gallon.

But I had wholeheartedly surrendered myself to a fitness program last March, a program for building up my core strength to ultimately lead to conquering my first 10k. I had worked so hard and gotten so far—I didn’t want to sacrifice all my hard work just because the thermometer hadn’t passed the freezing point of water.

So running and keeping fit through the short days of winter is on my agenda. And as I put on my running tights, wicking shirt, wind-resistant jacket, hat and gloves, I did feel pretty warm and well-prepared for the cold. With my good friend and our two sons, we headed out for that stocking run and had a really fun time—even though my son beat me by 2 minutes!

I used to roll my eyes whenever my husband said “It’s not a matter of it being too cold outside, it’s about having the right gear.” So count me in as a new, true believer… but still keep that hot cocoa ready for me afterward!

Here are 5 fun ideas to keep you and your family fit and healthy through the cold winter months.

Plan a social activity around fitness. Especially around Christmastime when everyone has evening plans, invite your friends and neighbors and their kids for an afternoon of ice-skating. It doesn’t matter if it’s outdoors or indoors, it only matters that everyone gets on a pair of skates and moves around. If ice-skating isn’t your thing, there’s roller-skating, bowling, Zumba classes, and skiing (downhill or cross-country). With good friends, being active is so much fun you won’t even realize you are being fit!

Remember the spirit of the season and go out and play! Who says that only kids can build snowmen, construct snow forts and have snowball fights? Bundle up in your best waterproof winter gear and get out in the snow. Not only will you burn plenty of calories in a full-body workout, you will get to spend valuable time playing with your kids. No snow on the ground? Have a neighborhood flag football game in winter coats or play kickball.

Make it a pedometer holiday. As a Hanukkah gift or Christmas stocking-stuffer, pedometers make keeping track of your steps as fun as a handheld video game. Studies have shown if you are keeping track of your steps, you will walk more miles than someone who isn’t. You can go cheap and simple or go all out with Garmond technology—just keep on walking!

Rediscover public indoor facilities. If you are getting tired of hearing, “Mom, there’s nothing to do,” grab the kids and head out to your nearest YMCA, JCC or recreation center. If you can’t afford full membership, purchase a 20-punch card to get through the chilly months. Most facilities offer swimming pools, basketball courts, gymnastics, community theater, dancing, and even indoor ice rinks. Visit http://www.ymca.net/ to locate your nearest YMCA.

Insert video. No, not watching A Christmas Story marathon on the couch—I’m talking about fitness DVDs, wii, XBox, dance pads and the like. When the temperature outside is below zero, you need to bring activity into the house to avoid frostbite. Choose fitness videos for families or kids in particular. Kickboxing or Zumba are fun and get the heart rate going. Dance pads for games like Dance Dance Revolution or Stepmania offer fun dance-off competition for the whole family.

No matter how you and your family choose to stay active this winter, be sure to stay healthy with plenty of sunshine, fruits and vegetables, and tons of hand-washing. You can’t enjoy all these awesome winter activities if you are stuck on the couch with a bad cold! Take care, from all of us at ZisBoomBah!

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