(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Winter brings about sugary smiles, big hugs and sometimes even bigger waistlines for adults and children alike. With freezing temperatures and wind chills, who wants to be outside? This leaves kids at the mercy of video games and their stashes of snacks. However, parents in the Dallas/Fort Worth area do have options, as described by local fitness expert and Physical Education teacher Joe Miller.

1) To keep kids active through the winter, be active as a family. Kids will be inspired to see their parents’ efforts to be fit and want to do the same.

4556 S Carrier Parkway
Grand Prairie, TX 75052
(972) 642-9632

One of the best promoters of family fitness nationwide is the YMCA. Local YMCA locations offer much more than summer swim lessons. The YMCA Grand Prairie branch offers parents many options for group exercise for kids including classes for kids on vacation and home school during weekdays called “Home-school Fit Kids”. On Friday evenings, “Family Zumba” is offered. In this class, children are welcomed and encouraged to participate. For those unsure about making a monthly membership commitment, the YMCA offers a 7 day free pass to give its perks a healthy try.

2) Competition is a great motivator.

Adventure Landing (Laser Tag)
17717 Coit Road
Dallas, TX 75252
(972) 248-4653

Unlike paintball, where most courses are outdoors and the artillery actually causes pain, laser tag is a fun, active solution to kids’ who need to just goof around and be kids, all while being active. The Laser Tag zone at Adventure Landing is indoors, allowing kids to battle out fun rivalries year-around. Laser tag will not cause bruising and welts but it will help kids work as a team to be successful and let them run some pent-up energy out.

Related: Fitter Kids, Better Grades

3) Let them have simple, silly, calorie-burning fun without the pressure of needing a certain skill. Trampolines, for example, are evergreen for kids.

Jump Street Dallas
11250 N Central Expressway, Suite 105
Dallas, TX 75243
(972) 349-6999

Jump Street Dallas is more than just a few trampolines scattered across a gym floor. This place is loaded with ways to make kids’ hair stand on end. Outside the main trampoline court and the trampoline dodge ball games, there is also an earthquake area for smaller children. For those with a taste for the more exotic, kids can flop and fall in the foam pit. The kicker at Jump Street is the mechanical bull. Surely any kid would be willing to jump and play and tucker out after a visit to Jump Street.

4) Give them a thinking sport to occupy the body and mind.

Exposure Rock Climbing
2389B Midway Road
Carrollton, TX 75006
(972) 732-0307

For children at least age 6, rock climbing can be a great way to build strength and problem-solving skills. An activity enjoyed mostly in the outdoors in the summer, still has many options indoor during the winter. Rock climbing is a great sport for kids because it helps them learn to deal with challenge and evaluate their every move. With practice, kids can gain thinking skills and patience that will serve them well in school and at home. If kids want to climb with other kids, youth groups can be formed to ensure this excursion turns into a long-term fitness hobby.

Related: Healthy Learning For Kids At Bedford Childcare Center

5) Make exercise part of the daily schedule, even when you don’t leave the house.
When there is no way to go out, make sure the video games and indoor home life are active. Instead of standard sitting and watching video games, try Wii tennis or bowling. Or make the one-time purchase of an exercise video that the family can sweat to together. Allowing the kids to help choose the video, whether it be dance lessons, zumba, or kickboxing, will make them more excited to participate. Doing it together as a family will make them want to get fit all year long.

About Joe Miller
Joe Miller has been a physical education instructor in the Dallas ISD for six years. He, along with input from his doctor and his wife, made the career change from a design job at a desk to a P.E. teacher for his health. Since then, he has lost 25 pounds and has better managed his diabetes.

Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.