Get Moving this DecemberDecember 04, 2015
The winter months can be a challenging time to stay active, particularly if your children are on vacation and are eager to lounge around the house. Orthopedic surgeon William Mitchell, MD, offers some creative ways to fit in exercise that you can do by yourself or with your family.
Get in a sweat at home with a fun exercise video. You can find a variety of exercise options on YouTube, from Zumba to cardio kickboxing and more. Consider yoga, which can improve flexibility and balance and is very gentle on joints. Yoga is also a good option for kids, and some videos offer instruction and poses specifically for children.
Even when the temperature is below freezing, you can still pull out your bathing suit and flip flops and head to the pool! Many gyms or community clubs offer year-round indoor pool access. Not only will your kids have fun pretending it is summertime, but swimming is a great low impact exercise for anyone with joint issues. The water’s buoyancy supports the body’s weight, which reduces stress on the joints.
Explore your city
Choose a location for a day trip in your city like a science museum, art museum, or aquarium that will have you walking around looking at exhibits. If possible, take public transportation so you can get in a little extra walking to and from your destination.
Whether you have holiday gift purchasing to do or you’re a fan of window shopping, mall walking can be great indoor exercise. Some malls even have outlined walking routes. If you’re looking to work out without pushing through a crowd of shoppers (or to avoid shopping temptation), go in the morning before the stores open! Walking is a great way to maintain a healthy weight. This is important because when a person is even slightly overweight, it can add stress to their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.
Many local volunteer opportunities will allow you to help your community and be active while doing so! Help out at a soup kitchen, food bank, or toy drive to get yourself moving and support your community. Some towns even have walks or runs for charity, which are also a good way to help others while you help yourself.
Of course, winter sports are also a fun way to spend time with your family. Skiing and snowboarding require substantial equipment, but your local ski shop or outdoor equipment store will likely rent you the gear if you don’t want to purchase your own. Ice skating, snowshoeing, and sledding are easy ways to be active outside, and you can rent the gear from a sports store or borrow from a neighbor. If you want to get outside without leaving home, going out with your kids to play in the snow or having them help you shovel will keep everyone entertained and active.
Remember to stretch and warm up before engaging in sports or other intensive exercise: your muscles aren’t as flexible when it’s cold so you’re more prone to injury. For more tips on staying active this winter, see nebh.org/winter to find out how you can make sure it’s a fun and healthy season!