Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle but when temperatures drop, helping children get the daily recommended 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity can be a challenge.Physical activity helps control weight; builds lean muscle; reduces fat; promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development; and decreases the risk of obesity. Don’t let the cold months of winter be an excuse to cut back on your familyís exercise routine. Consider these steps for keeping children active this winter:
- Encourage children to join an indoor sports team, such as soccer, gymnastics or basketball.
- Walk your local mall.
- Watch and follow an exercise video or DVD rather than a movie ñ and let the kids join in.
- Play a game of ìfreeze.î While playing music, have your child run or walk in a safe space. When you say ìfreeze,î have your child stop and remain in one spot. When you say ìgo,î have your child try skipping, jumping or stretching.
- Make an indoor obstacle course using empty boxes, pillows, plastic hoops and empty milk jugs.
Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all outdoor activity. Winter can be a great time to get outside and keep fit ñ for you and your family. Make it easier to get outdoors by organizing outdoor clothing in one place near the door. Give each child a box, bin or basket for mittens, scarves and hats. Help beat cabin fever by going outside to play on as many days as you can.
- Take a walk in the snow, meet friends at a nearby park and explore.
- Build a snowman.
- Get kid-sized shovels and have them help shovel the walkway.
- Go sledding or ice skating.
- Make snow angels.
Looking for a playground on a sunny winter day? Find a playground near you at http://playspacefinder.kaboom.org. The Web site has an iPhone app that lets you search for playgrounds on your phone while youíre on the go.If youíre heading outdoors, bring along a backpack, enough water for everyone to stay hydrated and healthy snacks ñ like an apple, baby carrots, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit or whole grain pretzels.As with all outdoor activities, it’s important to take the proper precautions to stay safe. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, be sure that your family is well protected against the cold. Layers work best. Begin with an undergarment made of a synthetic fiber that will wick away perspiration; a light shirt or turtleneck can go over that, followed by a sweater or fleece for warmth. Kids can always remove or add layers if needed. Don’t forget a hat, gloves and sunglasses. Apply sunscreen ñ snow functions as a reflecting agent and can intensify the sun’s rays on skin so kids can get sunburned even during winter.One more way to protect your family so they can stay active during the winter months is to get a flu shot. To find a flu shot clinic near you and for more winter health and safety tips, visit http://elpasocountyhealth.org.