Five days a week, Kristin Carpenter, a public relations company owner, pushes her 20-month-old son in his heavy-duty stroller up Durango, Colorado, hills with her malamute along for the run. Like a postal worker, she braves snow, sleet, and rain, while her son is in the well-protected stroller. "Running with the stroller gave me my freedom back," Kristin says. "It's an awesome workout -- an even better workout than running alone because I have to push the stroller and my son, who weighs 28 pounds."
Playtime outdoors shouldn't mean you sit shivering on the sidelines. Outdoor games with your children can keep you active and toasty warm. "I do a scavenger hunt or set up obstacle courses with six or eight different stations the kids help create," says Rebecca Jaffe. "We have activities such as jumping over fallen twigs, making snow angels, or tumbling. We'll race and see who can do the stations faster. For a better workout, I'll incorporate hills."
On winter weekends, Delilah Milne, a mother of two in Wynndel, British Columbia, Canada, and CEO of Victorian cottagetreasures.com, snowshoes about two miles with her children to a cabin, where they rest and fill up with hot chocolate before heading back. To get the most from this exercise, she does the hard work of blazing the path for her children to follow.
"Snowshoeing is easy to get into," Delilah says. "There are not a lot of skills children need to walk on snowshoes. If they can walk without teetering, they can snowshoe with you."
Delilah's family also fills their almost six months of winter by building igloos together. It's a family assembly line: Her husband shovels and packs the snow in an Eskimold container; one of her children then carries it to the building spot. Delilah positions the blocks, and her other child smoothes them with a plastic sculpting knife and fills gaps.
"We're doing a lot of work and moving all the time," Delilah says. "We've all got our coats off in no time. We're lifting the blocks, walking farther and farther out to get more snow."
Activities your child can share with you, such as skiing or ice skating, help set a healthy example, says Rebecca. Children can learn to skate with V-blade skates and ice walkers. For mom, skating and skiing provide excellent workouts, burning more than 900 calories in an hour. Another plus: At this time of year, all the equipment is on sale, yet there's still plenty of time to get out and use it.
"Last winter, we got good deals on cross-country skis for everybody," Rebecca says. "We went skiing all through February."
Malls, community centers, and some school gyms provide a sheltered place to walk for those times when you're tired of the cold. Chances are that there's a nearby mall-walking club for moms. Many gyms offer childcare or classes for kids while you hit the treadmill. Some have programs for the whole family. For example, the YMCA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has a six-week family wall-climbing class, and another YMCA in Chicago offers a Family Fitness Boot Camp.
"I take my daughter into the studio with me, and she'll even take some of the classes," fitness trainer Carrie Jacobsen says. "Usually when the temperature really dips, I'll move my classes into the gym, where the young children can play on mats while the moms work out."
The great thing is, once you get accustomed to working out in winter, you often find that spring comes all too soon.
Continued on page 3: Winter Gear That's Cooler Than the Weather