Making sure children stay active each day is crucial to their growth and well-being. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, but the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition reports that only one in three children is physically active each day.
Being active year-round can be difficult, but once the temperature begins to drop, it can seem close to impossible. While a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket might seem more inviting at times, children need physical activity year-round.
Here are several ways to ensure your child stays active throughout the winter:
Develop an indoor exercise program. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore — and for kids, it shouldn’t be. Creating a 10- to 15-minute routine of activities for before or after school helps kids let off some steam and have fun, especially if they view it as a time to play, dance and move around. Play some upbeat songs to help set the tone and then teach them simple exercises that can be done at home, such as jumping jacks, sit-ups and push-ups to help release pent-up energy and increase strength. You’ll demonstrate that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle while spending some high-quality time together.
Break out the sled. Gather some neighborhood friends and find a local park with some hills. Playing in the snow and walking up hills provides a great cardio workout, and group activities such as sledding can be so much fun that kids forget they’ve been away from their screens. Make sure your child is dressed warmly, in layers, with a scarf, hat and mittens or gloves.
Try interactive games. For days when it’s too cold to go outside, find an interactive game that gets kids off the couch and moving. Many consoles have games that encourage movement and activity and are fun for the whole family. If you don’t have a video game console at home, try such classics as Twister, charades, musical chairs, or Simon Says.
Bust a move. Try incorporating dance into everyday activities. A 30-minute dance party is all it takes to boost metabolism and stay active. There are many programs and dance videos online that are free and easily accessible for kids who love to express their creativity through music. And when all else fails, a quick game of Freeze Dance is a great fallback.
Sign up for a recreational sports league. There are thousands of recreational sports leagues across the country in gyms, schools and community centers. Joining a rec league is not only a great outlet for physical activity, but also helps kids interact with peers and learn valuable team building and leadership skills. It also gives them an opportunity that could help develop lifelong passions.
The benefits of daily activity go far beyond the physical advantages. Active kids thrive academically, socially and emotionally. On the days that winter has no end in sight, these simple activities show that being active doesn’t need to be a hassle.