In many ways, physical activity is a child's best friend. It's good for them—and it can be a whole lot of fun. But physical activity shouldn't be a fair-weather friend. Even in the colder months, kids need to keep moving.
Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to stay happily active, both indoors and outdoors, all winter long.
Make it a regular thing
The amount of physical activity kids need varies by age, but most experts agree that kids 6 and up should aim to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. That activity doesn't have to come all at once. It can be broken into smaller bits scattered throughout the day.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, staying active may help kids:
- Have a healthy weight.
- Build strong bones and muscles.
- Sleep better.
- Focus in school.
- Cope with stress.
- Have better self-esteem.
- Avoid risky behaviors, like smoking, drinking and using drugs.
Bring on the winter fun!
Kids may not be able to go for a bike ride or swim in the winter. But there are other ways to help them burn off energy and get some exercise. For instance, they can:
Play in the snow. If the weather cooperates, kids can ski, build a snow fort, snowshoe or go sledding.
Try a winter scavenger hunt. Taking nature walks with your kids can be a good option as long as sidewalks or paths are bare. Search for winter treasures like pine cones, winter berries, bird nests and animal tracks.
Visit a park. Kids can bundle up and play tag or other games that keep them running, jumping and skipping.
Have a dance party. Turn on some tunes and dance with your kids. Or let them host a virtual dance contest with friends over video chat.
Get tricky. Set up an obstacle course where your child can run and jump over pillows or crawl under tables. Or play indoor versions of hide-and-seek, tag or tug-of-war.
Gamify it. If your kids are into video games, encourage them to spend some of their media time with interactive games that require movement, like dancing, boxing or golfing.
Make the most of TV time. During commercials or between episodes, challenge kids to a laundry-folding race or a sit-up contest.
Lead by example
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep your kids active is to set a good example by enjoying a wide variety of activities yourself. When your kids see you taking walks, exercising around the house and playing sports, they will be more likely to pick up your good habits.
For more tips on raising healthy kids, visit our Children and Parenting health topic center.