5 Kid-Friendly Winter Activities that Double as A Workout

This post is also featured on the online women's publishing network BlogHer.  To view that version, click here.

Snow.  Do you have any yet?  If there is (or was) snow - enough to cover the ground and have some fun in - what activities would you do?  What would your kids want to do?  I bet snow ball fights, going sledding, and making a snow man come to mind, right?  That's GREAT because those all make the list of kid-friendly winter activities that double as a workout!  Some of these you might not think of as a traditional workout, but there are many exercise benefits in all of these activities, and your kids will love being outside playing with you.  If you have snow on the ground already, try some of these over the holiday break.  If not, pin this now and save it for when winter is really here.

5 Kid-Friendly Winter Activities that Double as A Workout

1 | Sledding

Remember the good ol' days of sledding as a kid?  That rush you got when you were flying down that hill at what felt like the speed of light, going over the ramps and being catapulted into the air, and landing at the bottom of the hill with a huge smile and surge of adrenaline.  But then came the hard part: the walk back up.  Well that's where the workout comes in.  Depending of course on how steep your hill is, you can get some serious leg work in!  Not to mention the cardio if you're jogging or running back up.  Whew!

2 | Making Snow Angels

Okay, so this one may not be a real workout, but I had to include it because it does actually work quite a few muscles, and you can make it worth your while.  If the snow is packed, think about pressing the backs of your arms into the snow as hard as you can to work your shoulders and back.  If it's the light fluffy stuff, try making those angel wings & gown big to stretch your muscles and work on range of motion of the hips and shoulders.

3 | Building A Snow Man

I posted this Snowman Building Workout last week that has many actual exercises in it, but building a snowman is a workout in and of itself, too!  Especially if you're building the giant ones!  Rolling the huge balls of snow takes a lot of upper body strength and works your lower body as you squat to lift the ball up as you build.  The wet heavy snow makes for a better workout here (and a better snowman!), but of course remember good form as you roll and lift - use your lower body and lift with your legs, not your lower back.

4 | Having A Snow Ball Fight

Snowball fights are cardio central!  No one wants to get hit, so you're constantly on the move.  All that dodging and quick foot work is great for working in all planes of motion.   Obviously you're not getting much of an upper body workout here, but the overhand throwing motion is good for working shoulder mobility.  Just be careful and please don't have a snowball fight if you have any shoulder injuries! 

5 | Building A Snow Fort

Man, I remember building an EPIC snow fort one year when after we got a huuuuge storm.  It had rooms, and a sweet tunnel... and wow, it was a lot of work!  All the shoveling involved (thank you Mom and Dad!), packing down the snow, or making bricks if that's your thing.  Those things all work some major muscles and shouldn't be discounted as a workout just because it's fun!  Get in there with your kids and make this year's fort the best one yet!

There you have it!  I hope you all are having a great week so far and are all set for the holidays!  I can't believe Christmas Eve is TOMORROW.  How crazy!  I'm traveling home to Rhode Island to be with friends and family, so I likely won't catch you until next week after Christmas.  I'll be sure to check back in with a few more workouts for 2015, and see how you're all doing!  Until then, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays to you and yours, and remember to enjoy yourself.  :)

Readers: chat with me!  What fun snow adventures do you have planned this year?  Do you do any of the above with your kids (or friends for those of you who don't have kids) when it snows?  Do you feel like you get a good workout in?  Are you ready for the holidays?

Walking The Talk: 7 Benefits of Walking + The Surgeon General's Call to Action

Today I'd like to take a step away from the more difficult workouts on the blog and talk to you a little bit about regular simple physical activity like walking.  How often do you get outside and walk?  Maybe you take your dog for a walk every morning?  Or perhaps you take a walk with your family in the evening after dinner?  What about during the workday?  Do you make it a point to get up and go for a walk midday to beat the workday slump? 

Walking the Talk: 7 Benefits of Walking + The Surgeon General's Call to Action

There are so many benefits of regular movement of your body, and walking is one of the easiest ways to move your muscles and joints (infographic below).  This post was inspired by information from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in their support of the Surgeon General's recently announced campaign: Step it Up! A Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities.  This campaign helps promote individual walking and walking groups within communities all across the nation in its efforts to reduce sedentary lifestyles and help raise awareness about the importance of daily physical activity.

Infographic c/o ACE's Walk the Talk Fitpro Toolkit

We've heard it time and time again - heart disease is THE leading cause of death in this country, with over 611,000 deaths reported in 2013 alone.  And the most contributing risk factors for heart disease are a lack of physical activity, and, in combination with a poor diet, obesity.  Let's just think about that for a minute.  Over a half a million people (HALF A MILLION) die each year because their heart failed to do its job.  Their hearts were put under too much stress carrying around extra weight due to poor diet, remaining sedentary, and dare I say, just plain laziness.  Let this be a wake up call to you.  If you are sitting on your couch, in your desk chair, or wherever you are right now reading this, I want you to get up.  Stand up.  Seriously.  Go stretch your legs and walk around for just 1 minute.  Don't worry, I'll wait...

(Insert Jeopardy theme song here...)

Back from your walk?  How was it?  Do you feel like you have more energy?  Good!  One of the easiest ways to combat obesity and start a daily physical activity habit is to walk, like you just did.  Wasn't that bad was it?  This reminds me of a pretty inspiring story I heard on ACE's 15 Minutes to Wellness Podcast about a man named Lee Jordan who started his fitness journey by walking 30 seconds (30 SECONDS!) a day.  Lee started this journey at 450 pounds.  He lost over 275 pounds and it all began with putting one foot in front of the other for 30 seconds a day.  I highly recommend that episode of the podcast, in addition to all the others in the series.  Really, check it out!  Click here to listen to Lee Jordan's interview and learn more about his journey.

The Surgeon General's Goals for the Campaign

Okay, back to the campaign and what this means for you.  The Surgeon General is putting out a call to action for all Americans to get involved in this campaign.  The goals of the campaign are simple and most of which you can help with by simply getting active yourself and in your community.  The number 1 goal is to make walking a national priority by encouraging individuals, families, and communities to get out there.  Other goals include making communities safer and more walk-friendly by installing sidewalks and streetlights, as well as providing education to the public on the benefits of walking and to professionals on how to engage their communities.  For a full list of the campaign goals and details of each, click here.

Walking Fun Facts

All that was pretty doom and gloom (sorry!), so how about some fun facts for a more light-hearted approach!  These facts were taken from the list of 52 Fun Facts in the American Council on Exercise Fitpro Toolkit.

Walking facts c/o ACE's Walk the Talk Fitpro Toolkit

How Can You Get Involved?

You might be thinking this is all well and good, but I'm too busy to go for a walk in the morning or after dinner.  To that I say remember Lee Jordan's story.  Small increments.  The walks don't have to be hour-long endeavors.  To all the readers of this blog, I challenge you to join me in a 10-minute walk every day for 2 weeks (starting today) wherever you can find the time.  Take your dog out in the morning before work.  Take a walk with your kids after school.  Go for a walk with coworkers on your lunch break at work.  Take a walk by yourself whenever you need to clear your head.

If you're on social media, particularly Twitter and/or Instagram, I'd love it if you joined me in using the hashtag #StepItUp to show your support!  You can tag me (@infitinhealth) and ACE (@acefitness) and join us all in creating a healthier nation, one step at a time.

Readers: chat with me!  How was your weekend?  Do you get a walk in frequently during your day?  If not, where can you find the time to add in a walk?  Do you walk to work, school, or elsewhere usually?  What about around your neighborhood?  Will you join me in the #StepItUp campaign?

Note: This post is not sponsored by ACE in any way.  I received the Walk the Talk Fitpro Toolkit because I am an ACE professional.  This post is simply my way of sharing that information with all of you and encouraging us all to get up and be active!

Bench & Resistance Band Total Body Workout

Hi guys!  Today I'm writing to you from a work retreat in West Greenwich, RI at the Whispering Pines Convention Center.  I'm here with my whole lab celebrating the end of the super busy summer of sleep research, and I'm actually celebrating my last summer here as I gear up for my move to Albany, NY.  The retreat is located in a pretty nice wooded area in southern Rhode Island, kind of like a luxury campsite.  Knowing I'd be away from home and out of my usual routine of going to class, I brought a set of resistance bands with me, and did the following workout during some downtime using the bands and a bench on a porch outside.  It takes about 30 minutes to do, each exercise lasting 1 minute (with 2 rounds total), and you'll alternate between band & bench.  Ready?!

Bench + Resistance Band Total Body Workout

Bench & Resistance Band Total Body Workout:

Alternate between band and bench exercises.  So, start with exercise #1 with the band, then move to exercise #1 using the bench.  Continue until you've done each pair 2 times through.


1. Squat + Lateral Raise - place the resistance band under your feet holding the handles in each hand.  Perform a squat.  Come back to standing and lift your right leg out to the side, keeping it straight and your foot facing forward.  Squat back down, and repeat on the other side.  Continue alternating sides between squats for 1 minute.

2. Bicep Curls + Pulse + Hold - keep the band underneath your feet.  Do 10 bicep curls, then 10 quick pulses, then a 10-second hold.  Keep going in that pattern for 1 minute, taking small breaks when you need to.

3. Seated Upright Rows - sit down on the floor with the band wrapped around your feet, holding the handles in each hand.  Keeping your back up straight and legs still, pull the band handles to reach your sides, in a rowing motion.  Continue the rows for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: the tendency is to scrunch your shoulders when you pull, so try to focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and down.  Think of pinching your shoulder blades together in the back at the top of the pull.

4. Donkey Kicks + Pulse - get into an all-fours position with a band handle looped on your right foot, holding the band in each hand on the floor (make sure there's tension on the band).  From here, bend your knee to 90˚ and kick your foot up toward the ceiling, pulling the band.  Do 10 kicks, and then 10 quick pulses.  Keep alternating kicks & pulses for 1 minute on the right leg, and then switch to the left for 1 more minute.

5. Standing Single Leg Raises - loop one handle around your right foot, and stand on the band with your left foot to keep it taught.  Stay standing, and flex your right foot, pulling your leg up to hip height.  Lower it back down to the floor.  Keep the leg raises going for 30 seconds on the right, and then 30 seconds on the left.

6. Resisted Push Ups - wrap the band around your back, between your arms and your sides, and get into a push up position on the floor with your hands flat, holding the band.   Do 10 push ups (or more) at a time, taking a break when you need to.  Keep going for 1 minute.


1. Box (Bench) Jumps - face the bench, squat down loading the legs, and jump up onto it.  Stand up straight, and then step down.  Continue the jumps for 1 minute, making sure to really squat down to power your jumps.

2. Incline Push Ups - place your hands on the edge of the bench and get into an angled push up position, maintaining a neutral spine.  Do as many push ups as you can in the minute, taking breaks when you need to. Trainer Tip: drop to your knees if/when you need to here.

3. Seated Straight Leg Lifts - sit on the edge of the bench, leaning back slightly to engage your abs, hands holding the edge of the bench.  Keep your legs straight and lift them up as high as you can off the ground.  Lower them back down, lightly tapping your feet to the ground.  Keep the lifts going for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: if you want to challenge yourself a little more, add some 10-second holds here, too. 

4. Alternating Step Up Lunges - start in a lunge on the ground facing the bench.  Take your back leg, and in one motion, step up onto the bench, quickly bringing the other leg up to hip height.  Reverse that movement, stepping back down into the same lunge position as before.  Keep that going for 30 seconds on one leg, and then switch legs for the next 30 seconds.

5. Up & Under Planks - start in a plank with your hands on the bench.  Plank on one arm, reaching the other arm underneath you and then up above you, turning your body as you reach up to look toward your hand.  Turn back and reach underneath you again.  Keep going for 30 seconds on one side and then switch for 30 seconds on the other.

6. Raised Knee-to-Elbow Planks - start in a plank, this time with your feet elevated on the bench.  Take one leg and bring that knee out sideways to meet your arm.  Alternate legs, staying in a plank the whole time and engaging your abs to keep your spine in a straight line.

Remember to repeat that sequence one more time for the full workout!

Readers: chat with me!  Do you work out in your hotel rooms or while you're traveling?  Do you bring equipment with you or do you prefer bodyweight workouts?  What are some of your favorite exercises to do on the go?