By Kate Amos

While the presents and food are always fun, the holidays are really about spending time with family. For many, this means relaxing on the couch watching football or classic movies. But before you settle in for an afternoon of lounging, use some of that holiday free time to get outdoors and get active.

1. Discover a New Path

If weather permits, a family bike ride is a great way to get outdoors and spend some time together. Look for a separated bike path, perhaps a rail-to-trail path or a route that runs along a beach or around a lake, where you will have plenty of room to spread out without worrying about traffic. If you have children who are too young to ride their own bikes, consider a child bike seat. Both front and rear seats are good options for small children, although front seats should not be used for children above two years of age. Remember that even if the child is not pedaling the bike, they still must wear a helmet at all times.

The holidays are also a great time to find themed rides and races. Signing up for a supported ride is a great motivation to get in some training miles, and can also allow you to explore roads and areas you might not otherwise get to see from a bike.

2. Cross Train

If cycling is not for everyone in your family, consider using the fall and winter months to cross-train with some other activities. Many cities feature 5k turkey trot running events, which are a great way to get plugged into the local fitness community while spending some time with your friends and family. Keep in mind that fitness does not need to be structured or competitive! Take advantage of your days off from work to go for a hike or a walk, or set up a neighborhood touch football game.

3. Fresh Powder

If you live in a snowy climate, try cross-country skiing! It’s a great form of cross-training for cycling, not to mention a whole lot of fun. Many cross-country ski areas offer rentals and lessons, and with lower speeds than alpine skiing, it can be a great choice for the young and the old alike.

4. Ice Rinks

Another family activity that’s fun even as the temperature drop is ice skating! Outdoor ice skating is a great way to take advantage of the cold weather, but even cities in the warmest of climates have indoor skating rinks, many of which feature holiday specials.

5. Comfort and Joy

Finally, don’t forget to support all of those fun holiday fitness activities with healthy meals. There’s certainly enough room for comfort food during the holidays, but you can also use that time in the kitchen to experiment with some new, healthy dishes. Whatever activities you choose this holiday season, make sure you take some time to focus on what’s really important—spending time with loved ones and being grateful for all that we have.

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