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5 Fun Holiday Activities to Try with Your Kids! December 08 2015

            

Though this time of year is supposed to be filled with festive fun for the whole family, most of us parents secretly start to dread those couple of weeks when the kids are off school and kicking around the house, the relatives are in from out of town, and private time seems like a distant memory. Well, why not make the most of it and plan some activities that will keep everyone, including yourself, active and busy? Here are a few fun activities that will help you stay healthy, provide some bonding time, and hopefully relieve some of that tinsel tension this holiday season!

            

Go Snow Shoeing.

While walking through knee deep snow in your not so waterproof winter wear might not seem appealing, snow shoes offer a fun way to experience the winter wonderland that awaits, while keeping your feet dry! If you have somewhere up north to visit, removed from the main roads and hustle-bustle of the city, this activity is particularly fun. The best part is, it’s a safe and easy way for family members of all ages and abilities to stay active, so you can take your toddler and grandma too!

               

Go Tobogganing.

You may not have done this since you were your kids’ age, but you’re never too old! Bundle up, grab a few toboggans (or rent some if you don’t own any) and find your biggest local hill to slide down! You will no doubt take a couple of spills but seeing your kids giggle as you tumble will be well worth it. They’ll love that you’re getting involved and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your inner child emerges. If you have really young ones, you can take them down with you on the same sled. This is a way to include them in an activity that they might otherwise be too young for. It’s also a great way to get your kids outdoors and breathing some fresh air rather than playing Nintendo in the basement for their entire winter break.

                            

Have a Snowman Contest.

Divide the family in half, and have each side build their best snowman. The losing team clears the dishes after dinner! This can also work with snow forts and snow angels- take your pick!

             

Bake Some Christmas Cookies Together.

If you’re getting tired of the outdoor activities, get your kids involved in some baking. Find a healthy recipe for Christmas cookies of your choice, and give everyone a task. This is a great way to spend time together and also helps your kids learn to work as a team, and fine tune their baking skills of course! Here’s an awesome healthy cookie recipe from Eating Well to get you started!

Orange Spice Molasses Cookies

Makes: 40 cookies

Active Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

Rolling Sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Cookie Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • Preparation

    Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

    To prepare the rolling sugar: Pulse 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a food processor until well combined. Place in a shallow dish and set aside.

    To prepare cookie dough: Grind oats in a blender until they look like a fine powder, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.

    Beat butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest and beat another 2 minutes. Add molasses, applesauce, egg yolk, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and salt; beat on medium-high until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

    Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the ground oats. Scrape down the bowl; with the mixer on medium, slowly add whole-wheat flour. (The dough will be moderately sticky.)

    Using a slightly rounded tablespoon of dough, roll into balls, then roll in the rolling sugar to coat. (If necessary, wet your fingers to help roll without sticking.) The zest will make the mixture slightly wet and it will clump; lightly brush off the excess so that just a thin coat is on the cookie. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

    Bake the cookies in batches until the edges are set and the tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and puffy, about 10 minutes.

    Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Serve warm or cool on a wire rack.

    Nutrition

    Per cookie: 85 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 9 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 48 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium.

    We hope this helps bring back some Christmas spirit, and that you and your family have some fun this holiday season!


    Low Impact Exercise- Why Everyone from the Youngin’s to the Geezers are Doing it! November 20 2015

                         

    If you are a runner or an athlete, you have no doubt felt the effects that high impact exercise can have on your joints, muscles and bones after a while. This is why athletes have been making a real movement toward lower impact forms of exercise such as body weight training, swimming, spinning, and even yoga. Sports are hard enough on their joints, they don’t need to be putting extra strain on them off the field, court, ice- whatever it may be. Us every day folk could take a page out of this book too. There are many different forms of low impact exercise that are quite effective and easier on the bod! These types of exercises help prevent injuries associated with traditional, high impact exercise and equipment, and is great for all ages and fitness levels. It can also be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes. Most importantly- despite popular belief, it produces visible results the same way that more traditional, heavy duty exercise does. So put down the bench press and try a different approach. Your joints and bones will thank you, and you’ll be surprised at the results you see!

                          

    Body Strength Training

    It’s a common misconception that we have to push ourselves on strength building machines and lift heavy weights to build strength and muscle. It’s actually a much better workout to use your body weight and movement to build strength and muscle. Body strength training is a great combo of cardio and strength training, as opposed to weights which only target certain areas to build isolated strength. (Ex. Bicep curls, bench pressing, lat pull-downs, etc.) Another benefit is that because there is no machinery involved, you can transition more rapidly from one movement to another. Circuit training is a popular form of body strength training, which entails progressing through a series of movements such as lunges and knee lifts. This fluid range of motion not only helps with flexibility (allowing your joints to move more freely) but it builds core strength, helps with posture, back strength and endurance, and burns fat like crazy! You will also develop better balance through control and awareness of your body. The best part about this form of exercise is that there is lots of variety in the movements and exercises you can do. You can always switch it up which helps keep you motivated to push your boundaries and break plateaus. Oh, and it’s free and can be done anywhere, anytime… which leaves little room for excuses!

                        

    Swimming

    Swimming is often thought of as more of a leisure sport, when it actually works every muscle and offers quite an amazing full body workout! Because water is non-weight bearing, the workout often feels much easier as there is really no strain on the muscles. This is probably the lowest impact form of exercise, so it is particularly good for those already suffering from joint or bone issues, pregnant women, those in rehabilitation, or the elderly. However, it is an excellent alternative from anyone’s regular gym workout as it works both the upper and lower body all at once. Interestingly, as opposed to other forms of exercise, because those carrying a little extra weight tend to be more buoyant, this form of exercise will be less intense for the overweight and probably more intense for those with a lower BMI.

                                      

    Spinning

    This is where all the runners live- it’s the same intense workout, without the heavy pounding feet on the pavement. Spinning has a lot of the same physical benefits of running- it increases endurance, strengthens legs, and ups your cardio fitness. The difference is that it is done in a controlled environment, and it is low impact and a whole lot easier on your muscles and joints. This form of exercise is great for anyone craving that high intensity workout, but not the achy knees and ankles. It is particularly beneficial for athletes training off season in helping them stay fit, while taking it easy on their bodies that will no doubt take a beating during the next season.

                            

    Hot Yoga

    Love that heavy sweat you work up during a serious workout? Hot yoga is no joke, and no- it is not for sissies. While it’s not always the highest intensity workout, hot yoga is known for building incredible core strength and balance, and increasing flexibility and endurance. It also helps with toning and weight loss with regular practice. Being in a 90 plus degree hot room also helps you work up quite the lather, and sweating out all those toxins can be very cleansing and therapeutic! Another known benefit of yoga is that it has positive psychological effects, as it fosters a stronger mind-body connection. Yoga is also a low impact form of exercise that uses only bodyweight and movement to build strength and balance, and really stretches out the muscles. There are many different types of hot yoga, all at varying levels of intensity. (Bikram, Moksha, Vinyasa, the list goes on.) Be sure to check the class descriptions at your local hot studio to see which best suits your needs.

    So, next time you hit the gym, will you think twice about picking up the barbells? Ask a trainer to show you some body strength training exercises, you won’t regret it when you’re old and nimble!