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Fight winter woes with indoor activity

a family being active in their living room with mops and brooms

I am done with winter. DONE! I’ve spent nearly a decade living in the Midwest – but having grown up in Florida, I still struggle with the idea (and actuality) of being cold for four months of the year. By the end of February, I’m at my wit’s end, too. However, when the overcast skies, chilly weather, or 8 inches of snow make it hard to get outside, I try to find ways to stay active indoors, and I’m always amazed at the difference it makes.

We all know that physical activity has tons of health benefits. But are you aware of all the benefits that physical activity can have on your mental health? Research has shown that it decreases symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and improves mood. Plus, it’s a great way to use up some of that extra energy that might be exploding out of your kids, your spouse, your pets, or you.

Try these fun ways to get some physical activity indoors:

  • Put in an exercise DVD or tune in to your favorite fitness influencer and do a living room workout.
  • Build a fort.
  • Have a family dance party.
  • Use painter’s tape and yarn to create a “laser field” like you’ve seen in your favorite spy or crime movie. See if anyone in the family can make it through the maze without “tripping the alarm.”
  • Play hide and seek.
  • See how long you can keep a balloon up without touching the ground. Or tie a string between to chairs to make a net for a balloon volleyball game.
  • Pull up some classic music videos and learn a new dance. Or teach them to your kids! Moonwalk? ChaCha Slide? Macarena? The Twist? The possibilities are endless.
  • Have a pillow fight.
  • Walk in place while you watch a show.
  • Play an active party game, like Simon Says or Charades.
  • Make each room an activity station (e.g. Kitchen = 15 jumping jacks, bedroom = 30 second plank, bathroom = 10 squats, etc.) and see who can rotate through all of them the fastest – or see if you can beat your own time.
  • Grab a mop, turn up the volume, and dance your way to a cleaner house.
  • 4 words: The floor is lava!

If you’re looking for more winter resources, check out Illinois Extension for great info and programs.


Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.  

She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.

When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.  


Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.