Stay Active During Winter

Stay Active During Winter

Don’t put a freeze on family fun this winter. Your kids need physical activity to stay healthy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services   says young people ages six to 17 need 60 minutes of activity daily.

It’s true: An hour can seem like a lot of time for today’s busy kids. Dark evenings and cold winter temps may also discourage kids from being active. Still, the benefits make overcoming these challenges well worth it.

Physical activity helps kids develop healthy muscles and bones. It also reduces their risk for developing serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Active kids have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, too.

Research shows some other interesting side effects. Fitter kids tend to have higher grade point averages, better classroom behavior and improved thinking skills.

Parents play a key role in helping kids stay active. Kids are more likely to be active if they have the support of their families. Try these strategies to keep your kids moving this winter.

Be Active as a Family

Make moving more a goal for your entire family. Here are some fun ideas you can all do together.

  • Schedule an active family fun day over the weekend.
  • Have a pickup football game in the back yard. 
  • Walk around your neighborhood after dinner to check out the holiday decorations.
  • Start a family competition. See who can be the first person in your family to meet a certain physical activity goal, such as exercising five days in a week.
  • Sign up for a charity walk or run as a family. Train together for the event. 
  • Go ice skating at an indoor rink together.
Make Activity Fun

Your kids are more likely to be physically active if it involves something they enjoy. Talk with them to see if they’d be interested in any of these options. 

  • Join a sports team. If your child doesn’t like team sports, suggest individual sports that your child can do indoors, like swimming at an indoor pool.
  • Enroll in a series of classes to learn a new skill. Gymnastics, swimming, figure skating or martial arts lessons are some indoor options. Older kids may want to take skiing or snowboarding lessons.
Build Activity into the Day

If your children don’t have a 60-minute block of time for exercise each day, don’t worry. They don’t have to do it all at once. Try these ideas to sneak smaller bits of physical activity into your kids’ days.

  • If you live close enough, walk your kids to school two to three times each week instead of driving. Consider allowing older children to walk to school with friends.
  • Assign your children active chores, such as sweeping or raking leaves.
  • When running errands with your kids, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Encourage them to do the same thing when they’re on their own.

You don’t need to let busy school days and cold weather keep your family from being active. With a little creativity, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay fit this season.

Sources: CDC Healthy Schools: Physical Activity Facts,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020; High Cholesterol in Teens,   MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health, 2019; High Blood Pressure in Children,   Mayo Clinic, 2018; How Physical Activity Affects School Performance,   Literacy Planet, 2017

Originally published 1/25/2016; Revised 2021