mother and daughter holding ice skates

Kids on vacation from school and an abundance of rich holiday fare is the perfect recipe for couch potatoes. Include family fitness as part of your holiday tradition to get up and get moving. Just remember to keep these things in mind before you start.

Getting Started
Identifying your family's fitness habits will help you decide what types of activities to plan, and when to plan them. Holly Gannett, Fitness Program Supervisor at Eastside Wellness Center in Augusta, Maine says families who don't exercise regularly should take it slowly. Don't try to do too much all at once. Instead, build gradually. To get a better sense of your family's fitness abilities, ask yourself:

  • Is everyone in my family healthy enough to participate?
  • Is everybody used to exercising or will this be new to some of us?
  • What are the age ranges we're planning activities for?
  • Are we more of an outdoors or indoors family?

Get Your Party Moving
For many families, holiday parties consist of food and drink, reminiscing, and catching up. This year, ask all your relatives to bring their favorite holiday music. Liven up the party and get everybody's blood moving by clearing out chairs and pushing aside tables to open up some space for dancing. You'll also encourage generational bonding as different types of dance moves and music are explored.

There You Go a' Wassailing
"Wassailing" is typically thought of as an outdated term for caroling. Traditionally, wassailing was a way for people to go out to meet their neighbors and wish them a happy, healthy holiday season. Though you can certainly prepare a few songs to sing along the way, the simple act of walking around the neighborhood to wish people cheer or admire the holiday decorations is a fitness activity for all ages.

Shop 'til You Drop
Shopping may not be your most favorite part of the holidays, but you can make it one of the fittest. Whether you're pre-holiday shopping or checking out post-holiday sales, you can get some exercise. Here are some ways:

  • Park at the very end of the parking lot in order to add steps to your family's walk to the store
  • Take a few extra laps around the mall. It gives you an opportunity to window shop, think about what you want to buy, and raises your heart rate
  • Avoid elevators and walk when you're on the escalators

Fitness, Electronic Style
The basic spirit of the holidays is togetherness. Set up a friendly family tournament to enhance the spirit while having fun. Many video game systems have dance and simulated sports games as well as fitness components. Spark a healthy sense of competition and while getting some aerobic exercise--together.