With winter weather upon us, and the sun setting earlier each day, it’s likely many kids could spend an entire weekend, or school break, lounging on the couch watching TV or playing video games. So much of the time, it’s up to the parents to give the kids a little nudge in the direction of, say, the back door, or get them involved in activities to keep their bodies in motion.

Here are 7 ideas to get kids moving and the blood pumping!

1. Plan family walks for the daytime.

As long as it’s not below freezing, grab the winter coats (and maybe the dog) and get out for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. If kids don’t want to go, you can entice them with a promise of hot cocoa when they get back home. Don’t have a great neighborhood for walking? Head to the local school track, a nearby neighborhood or a walking path at a park. Not only is it great family bonding time, but it gets you exercising too! If it’s feasible, you can even bike or roller blade together. The key is to just get moving. If it’s too cold, just going to the local mall and walking is better than sitting on the couch.

2. Enroll in a class.

Check the local YMCA, library or town center for classes on weekends or school breaks. For the younger (under 5)  crowd, libraries often offer movement classes that allow kids to get their energy out in a fun environment. How about looking into the local gym or karate center to see if they offer pay-as-you-go classes? Check into gymnastic places for open gym time, where, for one flat fee, kids can spend an hour or 2 discovering the trampolines, bars, beam, ropes and mats for lots of tumbling fun. Karate centers or gyms sometimes offer dodgeball on weekends so call around and see what is out there. Yoga is also a fantastic choice for kids, since most children’s yoga is at a pace to keep them interested and the instructors make it fun. They’ll stretch their muscles, do strengthening poses and get some mild cardio in as well.

3. Try commercial break exercise.

Tell the kids that they can watch TV as long as the get up and run in place or do jumping jacks at every single commercial. I had to do this along with my kids to get them moving, but after a few minutes we were all out of breath from laughing and exercising. We even took turns at being the instructor and coming up with the next moves.

4. Invest in toys.

Buy some new toys that will get the kids outside, or perhaps in a large playroom or basement if you have one.  Pogo sticks, giant balls to bounce on, jump ropes and mini trampolines are fun for most ages and even more fun with friends!

5. Don’t put away all the outside games and toys.

You’re bound to have some mild days, so keep the balls inflated and the bikes handy. Of course, once a good snow comes, sledding, snowball fights, shoveling and snowman building can burn quite a few calories and create some rosy cheeks for all!

6. Use the video games.

Ok, if they MUST be in the den with the TV on, I’d definitely opt for the Wii, Playstation Move or Kinect and let the kids have sports battles amongst themselves. I totally love Wii bowling on a cold winter day and I’ve participated in hysterical Just Dance competitions with my kids.

7. Speaking of dancing, put on some LOUD music and dance.

When my kids were younger, there was nothing like a good Disney CD to get us all up and partying. Now that they are older, we put on the iPod and jam to some great tunes.

It’s all in good fun and it’s great for kids to stay active. Encouraging exercise is one of the most important thing you can do for your family’s health.