Monday, December 22, 2014

13 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Active in the Winter

Recently we moved from southern Utah to the Denver area. It has been quite the climate change. One new challenge for me has been keeping the kids active when it is frigid outside. And I don't just say it's cold because we have become soft desert bunnies. -8 degrees Fahrenheit is still cold, even by Denver standards. Here's some ideas that I have found to be effective.

  1. Be an example! It is certainly less hassle for me to exercise when my kids are asleep, but some days I don't get up before them to do my workouts. I want them to see that exercise is an important and regular part of my life. And many times they jump in and do my workouts with me.
  2. Bundle up and go outside- There are winter days where this is impractical, but there are times when this is exactly what my kids and I need avoid cabin fever. If there is enough snow, go sledding, build a snow fort or make snow angels.
  3. A small indoor trampoline- A friend recommended this and it will be waiting under the tree this Christmas. It doesn't take up a lot of space, can be stored against a wall in the closet and can help them get a fun cardio workout.
  4. Dance with your kids It has become a habit in our household that when a Disney movie ends (especially Wreck It Ralph), that the kids and I dance around the living room until the credits end.
  5. Limit screen time- The official recommendations are that children should not spend more than 1-2 hours in front of a screen per day. I will be the first to admit that that is really difficult to enforce, especially when I have homework to do. Here are our house rules, before screen time my kids must 1. Have homework done 2. Do one small chore for every 20 minutes of screen time.
  6. Visit museums- This can get pricey, but keep an eye out for free museum days and coupons. Another good route is a museum membership. This year our museum membership of choice is the Denver Art Museum. $80 for our family for a year and it was worth every penny. And museum trips involve a lot of walking.
  7. Zoos & Aquariums- Same benefits as museums, but it's easy to add in some imaginative
    The Lions at the Denver Zoo (late October)
    movements. 'Let's walk like an elephant', or 'Show me how a monkey moves' Even in the winter there are sunny days that permit this with a hat and a jacket. (Denver can get really cold, but we've had several good weather days scattered throughout.)
  8. Plan family walks- Even if they are short. Take notice of  how the trees change, or the birds migrating or other wildlife. (Around here, there are tons of bunnies and groundhogs. My kids like to see who can find the most.)
  9. Visit the mall- Most have indoor play areas, and if nothing else it can offer an indoor place to walk a few laps.
  10. Roller skating- This one is hard for my toddler, even with the trainer and me supporting her. However, it is a favorite activity for my older kids. It's an exercise that builds strength and balance. (For those in the Denver area, there is a Living Social deal for it.)
  11. Have contests- My son loves to see how many push-up he can do, and he isn't really competing against anyone other than himself  "I want to see if I can do 25 push-ups this time!" Other indoor ideas include jumping jacks, bending over to pick up toys, touching your toes, knee lifts. You teach your kids to do many simple exercises this way
  12. Lessons & Team Sports- Karate, Ballet, Soccer, etc. These can become time-consuming and expensive, but just remember that you are investing in your child's health and well-being. A fantastic low-cost option in this category is Girls on the Run. It's an awesome program for girls 3rd-8th grade that teaches fitness and healthy habits.
  13. Take time to play with them- Most young kids love to play with their parents. As parents, most of us are busy, but try to make it priority to spend a few minutes with them. Get on the floor and play with them, or build blanket forts or play tag with them at the park. You are building your relationship(s) with them, you are encouraging their development and you are teaching them that being active is fun.

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