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Family Exercise Ideas for Every Season

Contributors: Esther Ellis, MS, RDN, LDN

Reviewers: Academy Nutrition Information Services Team

Published: January 14, 2021

Reviewed: September 26, 2023

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The key to an active family is finding fun things to do in every season. Aim for a goal of 30 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for kids of moderate activity daily — no matter the weather!

Winter Workouts

Once the weather turns cold, snow and ice can make jogging and cycling difficult — and even unsafe! Don't let the cold months of winter be an excuse to cut back on your exercise routine. Consider these indoor activities:
  • Walk inside your local mall.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible instead of an elevator or escalator.
  • Walk around your building's hallways during your lunch or coffee break.
  • Don't wait for spring for a thorough house cleaning. Wash the inside of your windows, vacuum or shampoo the carpet or clean out your closets.
  • Watch and follow an exercise video.
  • Exercise indoors at a nearby gym.
Cold weather doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to all outdoor activity. There are many ways to enjoy the weather by taking your physical activity outdoors. Why should kids have all the fun in the winter?
  • Have a snowball fight.
  • Go ice skating.
  • Go sledding.
  • Make snow angels.

Spring Into Action

Adding physical activity to your day may feel easier in spring and summer. Spring weather makes it easy to get outdoors and get your recommended amount of daily physical activity. These activities can count toward your daily total exercise:
  • Go for a brisk walk during your lunch hour or after dinner.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever possible.
  • Skip the drive-thru car wash and wash the car yourself.
  • Stretch your green thumb by doing some gardening. Consider growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs.
  • Walk in place while watching TV.
  • When possible, ride your bike to school or work — or use it to run errands.
  • Plan an active family vacation or a weekend outing.
Like good eating habits, regular physical activity needs to be part of everyone's healthful lifestyle. Remember, your goal is to make changes gradually so you can stick with them and won't have to repeat this process next year.

Summer Activity is Crucial for Children

Don't let your child spend their summer sitting on the couch. Teach them to enjoy the benefits of being physically active. Help your child stay moving in summer with these ideas:
  • Sign your child up for local sports camp or swimming lessons.
  • Make going for a walk, run or bike ride together a scheduled event.
  • Go hiking and have the kids tell you 10 points of natural interest to enjoy.
  • Take up a new hobby together, such as inline skating, tennis or hiking.
  • Run through the sprinkler when it's hot outside.
  • When it's raining, stay inside, turn on some music and have a dance party.
  • Set up neighborhood contests including jump rope, hula hoop or hopscotch.
  • Organize community kickball, soccer or softball games or relay races.
  • Host a bicycle wash on your street.
Being active also helps reduce the risk of chronic health problems later in life. Encourage your kids to engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Teaching the importance of physical activity while your kids are young will help them maintain the habit when they're older. Remember to lead by example by also engaging in regular physical activity.

Enjoy Autumn Activities

Get outside and enjoy the fall colors during autumn with these activities:
  • Take a brisk run.
  • Go for a nature hike.
  • Gather the family and go apple-picking.
  • Play a game of football.
Weekend athletes may not have the same nutritional demands of full-time athletes, but you still need to fuel your body for outdoor activities. If you're planning some physical fun during fall weekends, power up beforehand. Eat a meal three to four hours before a workout and a small snack about an hour prior. This helps ensure the energy is in your muscles when you need it.

Don't Let Exercise Take a Holiday

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season may make it hard to stick to your workout routine, but always make exercise a priority. Good options include walking, biking, running, ice skating or stair climbing. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you don't currently have a workout routine, there is no time like the present to get started.  

Individuals with chronic conditions should talk with their health care provider to determine whether their conditions limit, in any way, their ability to do physical activity before starting a new routine.

Find a Nutrition Expert

Looking for credible nutrition information and recommendations? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' network of credentialed food and nutrition practitioners are ready to help!
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