Let’s face it: most of us don’t plan our holiday family activities around working out. Some of us might have the fleeting thought that since we are on vacation, we will have more time to stay active and do several activities we didn’t have time to do earlier in the year. For most of us tough the days fly by with wrapping gifts, cooking (and eating) treats and laughing with loved ones. We have an idea: make family time into fitness time! We’ve got some joint-friendly fitness ideas below that can easily fit into your holiday schedule.
While you might cringe at the though at first, you’ll be surprised at how fun these can be. The best part of integrating family time with fitness time is that several of these activities are adequate for most types of chronic pain and joint issues. Your family can enjoy the flexibility of adapting as needed as to be more inclusive of all your loved ones’ needs.
Here are 6 joint-friendly fitness ideas for how to stay active and pain-free this holiday season:
Organize an indoor obstacle course
Is your family planning a big reunion this holiday season? Why not organize some fun – and slightly competitive – activities? You can make it holiday-themed by having players skew around the Christmas tree or gifts, search for hidden golden bows, run a candy cane relay and more. Adapt activities so that they are low-impact and joint-friendly so that those with with knee pain or joint pain on crutches and/or using walkers can play as well.
Walk your local shopping center
Do you still have some holiday shopping do you? Go with the family to walk the mall, avoiding escalators and elevators whenever possible. You’ll be so focused on looking for gifts that you won’t even feel like you are doing exercise. Bonus points for finding shopping centers that have shorter staircases and ramps to make your walk more joint-friendly.
Pro-tip: avoid stopping for sugary snacks as you shop. You’re participating in an activity that burns calories, not top out your sweets count for the day! Split for low sugar and low fat treat at the end of your trek instead.
Break up the holiday movie marathon with a fitness DVD
It’s many families’ favorite thing to do over the holiday: watch the classic holiday movies. Netflix has quite a few of the most cherished ones currently streaming. The problem with this activity though is that it forces you and your loved ones to stay sedentary for hours on end. That isn’t good for your joints, your heart rate or your overall health!
By all means, watch your favorite holiday movie. Enjoy that time relaxing and laughing with friends and family. But break it up with a joint-friendly yoga or fitness 101 video. That Amazon Prime membership you put to work for holiday shopping? Now is your chance to make it pull double duty: your membership includes access to more than 300 workout videos and movies.
You can also make up your own types of exercise. Some of your family may be interested in weight loss, some may be interested in improving their range of motion and some may be into strength training/building muscle. Come up with a list of your moves for your family to try that targets core muscles and offers a total body approach. Include some joint-friendly fitness ideas so that your workout is welcoming for people with chronic pain.
Pro tip: Got an old rowing machine collecting dust? Clean it up and make it available over the holidays.
Hold a holiday music dance party
Holiday music fills the homes of people all over the world this time of year. How about asking your partner to dance with you for a few songs? Turn off the video games and DVD and ask everyone to join in. The best thing about dance parties is that you dance how you are able – no judgment. Whether than means using a cane to slide up and down the room or swaying back and forth – the idea is to get you and your loved ones moving!
Make a snowperson (and maybe have a snowball fight!)
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Gather your family, friends, and even neighbors, bundle up and make a snowperson in your yard. Rolling up the snow, packing it together and piling it on tip of each other takes a surprising amount of energy. Everyone can take part as they are able.
Pro-tip: Throw the first snowball and challenge your loved ones to a spontaneous snowball fight. That will really amp up the blood flow and the heart rate!
Organize holiday charades
For this activity, you can make up a deck of cards with holiday symbols, decorations, movies, characters and more. Each person picks a card and acts out the card. Extra points and applause for those who can act out their cards with the most creative physical activity. Whoever guesses it gets to go next.
Pro-tip: You can also keep it freeform and have everyone think of their own ideas as well. If you want a more competitive edge, you can have two teams with two people acting out the same or different cards at the same time.
These are just a few ideas you can follow to add a little more movement and a little more fun to your holiday season. Remember that physical activity is important for your heart, bone and joint, and even brain health – so it’s crucial to keep it up throughout the year.
Adapt these activities as needed for the variety of needs and health concerns among your loved ones. The idea is to keep moving while spending time with then and – most importantly – making memories! Maybe some of these activities will even become holiday family traditions by next year.
What is your favorite joint-friendly holiday fitness idea?
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