winterfamilyexercise1-600-x-403I recently visited the lively Laguna Beach, Calif., with friends and family to enjoy a few last moments of fun in the sun before Christmas. Imagine an 80-degree December day where the locals hit the beach, trails, ocean or gym for continual physical fitness sessions.

Well, back home in the nation’s capital the vantage point is a bit skewed from visions of sun-kissed California. Here, a normal December day is symptomatic of 20-degree weather and wintry driving conditions. Winter in Washington, D.C., also means a few snow days when the kids beg to build a snowman based on the Olaf character from Disney’s “Frozen.” Their snowy activity is a great idea.

For family focused physical activities throughout the year, here are a few indoor and outdoor winter ideas to implement into your household regimen:

Letting it snow. As adults we often shun a few snowflakes and make a myriad of excuses to stay home and sip tea on the couch. Not kids. Lace up,  get outside with your kids, and build an abominable snowman or snow fortress, shovel snow, go sledding or have a snowball fight for an hour. Burning calories during a fun activity is the easiest way to melt fat.

Skating. There’s nothing like cutting through wind on a pair of skates while laughing and chasing one of your siblings or friends. Be it inline or ice skating, the legwork is methodical, and the upper body rotational swings are akin to the movements of sprinters, who tend to have some of the best abs among all athletes. Skating is not only a high-intensity interval training activity, but it also unifies groups of friends. My childhood memories of the rink are still palpable. So when my two daughters say, “Dad, let’s go skating,” I immediately answer the call of duty.

Hitting the trails. Let the beauty of your nearest major park inspire a family hike that lasts from 30 minutes to an hour. Take in the earth tones of the environment, inhale the purifying aromas of Mother Nature and identify the insects and animals roaming the land. Turn your trailblazing hike into a family photo contest to see who captures the most unique earthling. Of course, everyone wins with fruit smoothies awaiting.

Bouncing at an indoor trampoline park. If your kids are hyperactive the best place to let them loose in an indoor trampoline park. In Columbia, Md., there’s a Sky Zone, which allows you to bounce the day away while also bouncing away impending fat stores. Again, this is high intensity movement that keeps the heart rate up, the blood flowing and the brain oxygenated. Afterwards, you never know what inventive idea your kid may come up with!

Taking advantage of sports complexes. Most counties have sports complexes or recreation centers with arrays of activities to partake in as a family. For example, our local center offers volleyball, basketball, indoor swimming, gymnastics, ping pong and tennis – not to mention a 200-meter indoor track. Any one of these options will burn calories in a hurry, especially if you choose to sprint around that track!

Rock climbing. I was at a race in Chicago when my baby girl who was 5 years old at the time asked to jump up the wall with the thingies sticking out of it. “Oh, you want to rock climb,” I sarcastically replied. To my surprise she reached the top in no time with aplomb. Since then she and her sister excitedly take on any wall in view at similar sporting events or amusement parks. We also head to indoor rock climbing facilities as often as possible. Both coordination, upper and lower body strength and confidence are built up as climbers head for the top.

Building a home gym. If you’re able, dedicate a few hundred bucks to creating your own home gym in the garage. The essentials could include a boxing bag, weights, a bench, jump ropes, ab rollers, pull-up bar, kettlebells and dumbbells. Once or twice a week my wife and I hit the garage and knock out a 45-minute workout. I also incorporate the kids by using them as human weights for squats, lunges and ab work on the incline bench.

There are many more fitness activities to integrate into your family’s life during cold winter months. Consider bowling, dance-offs or a Wii Fit Plus if you simply cannot live without a gaming consul. The unequivocal scientific evidence is clear as daylight: A family that exercises together stays together!

Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins