Nurturing Family Fitness and Digestive Wellness in the Colder MonthsPublished on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 by
Family Fitness Adventures: Embracing Health and Togetherness
Being from the North, it is common practice that activity slows to a halt when the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop. Things were a little better when I moved South, but the same hibernation habits remained. For most, the cold weather is just not as inviting as the warmer temperatures. Being active all year round provides the greatest benefit, and including the entire family significantly supports our overall health and wellness.
Nourishing Mental Health Through Activity
Not only are you being a great role model for your kids, but you are also teaching them how to remain healthy their entire lives. Many people like to put limitations on kids, minimizing what they can do. These are the same people complaining about how their kids are awake at five in the morning and jumping off anything in what feels like an attempt to journey to the emergency room. The other side is kids who never go outside and play because they are so conditioned to playing video games and watching a screen. Studies show that sedentary behavior is associated with an increase in the development of depression and anxiety.
Mental health and digestive health intersect, forming the gut-brain connection. This connection activates hormones through the different foods we eat and our activity. Implementing this with your family grants a victory in the battle against depression and anxiety. Digestive health is so important to your gut microbiome, but also your mental health. Staying active can help with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, improve quality of life, and improve feelings of fatigue.
Making healthy food and fluid choices that promote a positive microbiome fuels you for your activities and works holistically throughout your entire body.
Indoor Adventures: Climbing, Gym, and More
Now that we got through that, go ahead and change out of those pajamas and dive into this curated list of indoor and outdoor fitness adventures for the whole family.
- Indoor climbing walls – These are becoming more popular throughout most cities. Even some of the larger Dick’s Sporting Goods have climbing walls you can jump on while you shop. The gyms in our area are super kid-friendly, and some even have an entire section for kids to be bolder and do free climbs.
- Your local gym or YMCA – These facilities are great for family activities. Most have an indoor pool with family open swim or even kid-friendly exercise classes like Zumba, Yoga, and Dance.
- Local Gymnastics Gymnasiums – Most facilities have open gym time where families can pretend to be Simone Biles or Mary Lou Retton, just maybe stay off the uneven bars.
- Trampoline Parks – Nothing is better than launching your kid ten feet into the air on a double bounce and watching them land in the foam pit. Challenging your kids to a race on the Ninja Warriors course is also a fun way to show your kids who is boss and keep your street cred.
- Ninja Warrior gyms – This is a new thing I have been seeing pop up in our area. It is a free-for-all to see who can hang on the longest.
- Indoor turf facilities – Based on your location, many places have ‘open facilities’ times or more organized events for soccer, football, baseball, field hockey, etc. You can rent these places out for parties as well.
- Skating Rink – Whether roller or ice, take to the rink with your family. Let nostalgia set in as you shoot the duck or simply try not to bruise your tailbone.
Outdoor Excursions: Races, Parks, and Adventures
Those are some great indoor activities, but our family loves being outside, and unless it is raining a lot, we are not easily deterred. So let us move outside!
- Local races with a kid’s fun run – This is one of our favorite things to go and do. We all get something out of it, and our kids are learning a sport that will be a foundation for any other activities they choose to do.
- Local Park – Perhaps an obvious choice, but when was the last time you were involved in a good round of playground tag? NOT IT!!!
- Nature Parks/Hiking – Take a short family drive to some area trails and go explore. Most ranger stations have kid-friendly scavenger hunts, or you can print some like these from Make and Takes.
- Zoo Membership – If you have a local zoo, you can walk, skip, and play as you go from one animal exhibit to the next.
- Bike Ride – Find a cool neighborhood, look for some paved trails, or just go from your front door. Let your inner child loose and pedal like your legs are twelve again.
- Sled, Ski, Snowboard – If you can access snow, then take advantage. Even when it is cold, the utter joy that you and your family can have is fully worth the wipe-out or face wash. (If you do not know what that is, you obviously did not have an older brother).
Family Togetherness: Building Memories and Confidence
Family Togetherness is essential, and the rewards far exceed the physical health benefits. My husband and I embrace the colder months and include our kids in almost everything we do. There are things we do that cater more to them and some that are catered more to us.
We create memories together and build a strong foundation from which they can grow. Our hope is we are instilling the value of health and movement. This teaches them that age does not define ability, good health lasts a lifetime, and their confidence grows significantly.
- Johannesson, E., Ringström, G., Abrahamsson, H., & Sadik, R. (2015). Intervention to increase physical activity in irritable bowel syndrome shows long-term positive effects. World journal of gastroenterology, 21(2), 600–608. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v21.i2.600
- Wang, C. H., & Peiper, N. (2022). Association Between Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior With Depressive Symptoms Among US High School Students, 2019. Preventing chronic disease, 19, E76. https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd19.220003
Kari TallentMA, RD