January and February can be just as brutal on kids as it is on adults. There’s this scary tendency to hand over a screen for entertainment all winter long. Whatever your feelings are toward screen-time, lack of physical activity as a result of excessive device use can be very damaging for your child.
Electronics aside, even if your child is curled up on the couch reading a book all afternoon, he or she needs some physical activity! Childhood obesity isn’t rising at the rate of adult obesity, but it is rising steadily. Our kids need to move! Their health depends on it.
Benefits of Staying Active
Some of the benefits physically active kids enjoy are:
- Strong bones and muscles
- Controlled weight
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes
- Better coordination, balance, and posture
- Improved sleep
- Improved concentration
- Better mood and confidence
Let’s face it, though, keeping our kids active in the winter can often feel like a chore. Let me relieve some of the pressure I just dumped on you: it’s okay if your kids aren’t as active as they are in the summertime! That’s not the goal. The goal is simply to get and keep them active on a regularly basis, and not let the dreary cold of the winter months make us all lazy.
How to Help Your Kids to Stay Active
Here are some tips for keeping your kids active this winter that may take some effort on the parent’s part but will turn out well worth it!
Limit screen time.
Our kids will get up and move all on their own when there isn’t anything else to do! Allow them screen time, sure, but set a timer for when all devices get put away. If your kids aren’t used to this, it may take some time to adjust. But you’ll be amazed how quickly they figure it out and find their own ways to get their wiggles out.
Yes, this may involve bundling up the littles (which can easily take even longer than they end up spending outside!) but the fresh air, all-natural vitamin D, and activity will hugely benefit your kids. Some specific ideas are:
- Build a snowman or have a snowball fight
- Enjoy a snowy hike
- Head to the slopes for skiing, sledding, or tubing
- Go ice skating or snowshoeing
- Visit a playground (no one else will be there!)
- Shoot some hoops, kick a ball around, play tag
Enjoy the indoors.
There’s plenty of active fun to be had right inside your home. Turn on some music and have a dance party. Create an obstacle course with household items like pillows and toys. Play active games like Simon Says and Charades. Throw in an exercise DVD or break out the Wii. My personal favorite indoor game as a family is speed cleaning!
Visit community facilities.
These places will usually cost a little money but you may also be able to get a season or yearly pass to keep it affordable. Even if you only visit a couple of times, you’ll be encouraging healthy activity. Try out your local YMCA or another community facility that offers a pool or a gym. Ice skating and roller skating are a hit for kids, as well as bowling. You’ll likely be able to find indoor rock-climbing or a trampoline park nearby. Of course, there’s always the option of going to a play place at the mall or Chick-fil-a.
Join a class or sports team.
Winter is an excellent time to try out a new sport or activity. There’s swimming, dance, gymnastics, basketball, martial arts, and so much more.
When the long winter months start getting you down, remember that it’s hard on the kids, too. Helping them be more active will help you to be more active, making it a win all around.