Keeping active is relatively easy in the warmer months of spring and summer, as outdoor activities are abundant. Once the cold hits though, everyone’s stuck indoors, making it that much harder to ensure your children get the exercise and mental stimulation they need to stay healthy. Here are some ways you can keep your children active throughout the winter months and why it’s important.
Staying Healthy Through Physical Activity
The American Heart Association advises kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day. That could take the form of after-school sports, dance classes, walks, jogs and even just playing a game of neighborhood kickball in the street. Because being inactive as a kid means you are far more likely to be inactive as an adult, it’s imperative to kick start this way of thinking early on. The AHA says getting adequate physical activity — either outdoors or indoors — can help control weight, reduce blood pressure, raise good cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and improve self-confidence and self-esteem. Kids who engage in regular physical activity also tend to have stronger muscles and bones, get better sleep and have a more positive outlook on life, says KidsHealth. With exercise comes the ability to achieve not just physical health but mental health as well. Children who are active have more chance of being motivated academically, successful in life, and alert to handle anything that may come their way.
Promoting Physical Activity
While it may seem like a chore to get your child off the couch in the winter, if you make the activity fun, they are more likely to get excited about something other than the latest video games and TV shows. As a role model for the children in your life, it helps to show by example. That means if you want your kid to take a brisk walk around the block, you should be leading the charge. Engage younger kids in a fun nature walk where you challenge yourselves to find all sorts of things, from leaves in all colors to creatures like caterpillars. If you can’t get outside due to the cold or snowy weather, promote indoor physical activity such as obstacle courses in the basement, jumping jacks and other fun exercises, or even visit an indoor playground to let your children get out their wiggles.
Get Them in on the Fun
In an age where you’re competing — almost futilely it seems — with electronic gadgets of all kinds, it’s important to keep the activities you choose fun and engaging. Play to their strengths and offer up a few options for them to select the ones that interest them the most. The Raising Children Network says kids who have good balance may like to do gymnastics, hit the playground, dance, climb, or go for bike rides, while kids who are skilled in hand-eye coordination may enjoy bowling, tennis, baseball, or Frisbee.
The next time you hear “I’m bored!” get them off the couch and doing something — anything — active to engage their mind and body.