8 Ways To Sneak In Fitness

It’s an understatement, we realize, to say the past few months haven’t exactly been kind to your waistline. But luckily, January’s prime time to reverse the damage, and you don’t need a fancy gym membership or a weekend nanny to make it happen.

Hike while they sled
*Calories burned: 408

The ride down the hill may not burn many calories, but the uphill climb to the top of the hill sure will, says Erin Palinski-Wade, registered dietitian, founder of Vernon Nutrition Center in Franklin and Ramsey and author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. “As your kids are sledding, walk (in boots or snowshoes) up and down the same hill for a challenging cardio workout that will have your leg muscles burning.” For an even bigger calorie burn, race the kids back up the hill. 

Hit the ice
*Calories burned: 476

Whether you’re a complete novice or a Kristi Yamaguchi in training, skating makes a great low-impact workout—plus it’s a killer way to tone your lower body, says Palinski-Wade, targeting those big calorie-burning muscles below the waist like your quads, hips, glutes and hamstrings. Add in a kid who’s a little unsteady on his blades, and you’re going to be working your biceps and triceps getting him back on his feet. 

Teach them to ski
*Calories burned: 340

Constant mini-adjustments to maintain balance while you’re shushing down the slopes keep your core engaged, and the slight bend you need to keep in your knees while you ski means your quads get an all day workout, too. If your kids are new to the sport, you may spend a lot of your day in snowplow position, and that adds inner thighs to the workout list. Plus, every time you stop skiing to pick snow bunnies off the snow counts as a deadlift squat! A full day on the slopes can burn upwards of 1,400 calories.

Pump it up in the park
*Calories burned: 238

Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, New Jersey-based nutritionist, exercise physiologist and author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great, suggests bundling up and heading to your nearby park or playground. “But don’t just stand around like a helicopter parent,” she says—use what’s around you to get fit. Do pushups off a bench, then use the bench for balance as you do sets of squats and lunges. Or make like your kids and run around to get your heart rate up. “Play an old-fashioned game of tag, pump your legs on a swing next to your kid or chase him across the monkey bars,” says Stoler. 

Take a tour of your local art museum
*Calories burned: 204

Going to a museum means you’ll be doing lots of walking, says Stoler, which, even at a slow pace has countless benefits. According to the American Heart Association, 30 minutes of daily walking can help maintain body weight, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, enhance mental well-being and reduce the risk of heart disease. Even standing still (while you’re looking at a particularly lovely painting) has its perks—According to a recent study by the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health at University College of London, standing for three hours each day can have some of the same health benefits (such as cutting the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease in half) as running 10 marathons a year.

Shop ‘till you drop
*Calories burned: 340 

To get the maximum fitness benefit from time at the mall, go to a big one. “After each store visit, walk a lap around the mall before visiting the next store to increase your overall daily steps and activity level,” advises Palinski-Wade. If you feel comfortable letting your kid browse in a store without you, take a 10-minute power walk while they’re in there. If you have younger kids, plan your mall visit around nap time and make your walking workout even more challenging with the added resistance of a sleeping kid in a stroller, says Palinski-Wade. 

Get wet
*Calories burned: 476

Head to the indoor pool at your local gym or community center, suggests Palinski-Wade. Swimming on a regular basis (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes per week) is one of the best low-impact workouts you can do—improving flexibility and increasing circulation without any pressure on your joints. Swim laps while the kids play near you in the pool, or get the whole family involved in water games (like Marco Polo or Dolphins and Sharks) during open swim sessions. Make it more challenging by staying in the deep end where you’ll have to constantly tread water.

Exergame it
*Calories burned: 238 

There’s always the option of working out right in your own living room. “Consider playing video games that involve dancing or fitness activities,” says Stoler. According to a 2014 Pediatrics study, playing athletic video games like Just Dance and Nike+ Kinect Training can significantly increase physical activity levels and reduce the amount of excess weight in overweight and obese children. What’s good for them is good for you!

*Average calories burned for all activities based on a 150 lb woman and an activity duration of 60 minutes


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