Keep Active in Winter

Don’t freeze out family winter activity.
Are your kids getting the physical activity they need to stay healthy? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says young people ages 6 to 17 need 60 minutes of activity daily.

An hour can seem like a lot of time for today’s busy kids. And dark evenings and cold winters may also discourage kids from being active.

Winter exerciseBut it’s well worth it get moving. Physical activity helps kids develop healthy muscles and bones. It also reduces their risk of developing diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Active kids have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

And, fitter kids tend to have higher grade point averages, according to a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics. Other research shows that regular physical activity may be linked with 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.

Family Fun
Make moving more a goal for your entire family. Try these ideas.

  • Go ice skating at an indoor rink 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.
  • 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. 

Choosing the Right Activities
Your kids will be more likely to do an activity if they like it. Consider these ideas:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Keep Moving
If your kids 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 in smaller bites 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. Older children may be allowed to walk to school with friends.
  • Assign your children active chores, such as sweeping or shoveling snow.
  • 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.

Don’t 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.