Healthy activities to do as a family

© MSN Healthy Living // © MSN Health

Do you like your job and love raising a family, but wish you had time to take up a new sport -- or enjoy your old favorites? Does it seem like there's never enough time to get out there and get moving? Here's a novel concept: Take the family along! Incorporating your partner and children into an active lifestyle can be one of the biggest favors you'll do for any of you.

A note of caution with any physically strenuous activity: Youngsters often tire, dehydrate, overheat and drop core temperature more quickly than expected. Keeping an eye on these vital signs while enjoying your conditioning time together will ensure the family remains safe while having fun.

With that mind, consider trying one or all of the following activities in your pursuit of a healthier, happier family.

--By Anastasia Poland for MSN Healthy Living

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Let it snow

If you have fond memories of snowball fights, sledding down crazy hills, building snowmen and igloos, then it's high time to turn your kids on to your fun of yesteryear. Hauling a sled uphill is great cardio, and building with snow can be excellent resistance training.

Children as young as six can enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and you can bundle up a wee one in your baby backpack or tow him or her behind in a special sled so all can savor a winter wonderland.

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Reach for the stars

One of the newest sports to sweep America is rock climbing and, conveniently enough, you don't even need a real rock to experience it. Many gyms have added climbing walls and newer gyms may be built specifically around this feature. Definitely more challenging than a Sunday stroll, climbing is a total body workout that utilizes many of the major muscle groups. Most gyms accommodate a wide range of ages; some even offer family packages and host special family days.

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Flippers 'n' fins

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can't swim to your heart's content. Indoor pools abound at local recreation centers and gyms; so call around to find good family-use packages. Swimming builds stamina, general strength and cardio fitness and is very low impact for those who have had former sports injuries. Whether you're working on water ballet with your baby or brushing up on the butterfly stroke with your teen, your body will thank you for the regular workout.

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Park it

Weather permitting, camping, hiking and simple scenic walks in local parks are fantastic and inexpensive ways to exercise with your kids and to teach them to appreciate Mother Nature up close and personal. Why not take adavantage of some great outdoor escapes in your neck of the woods? If you want to hit the trails together on a larger scale, many of the National parks have family programs, as do local and state park systems.

Remember, family time doesn't always have to center around the remote control. Get outside and get your blood pumping together -- you may create some lasting memories as well as a lifelong habit of staying in shape.

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