How Can I Get My Kids More Active in Winter?

Q: This winter has been so cold. How can I get my kids to be active even though we’re stuck inside?

A: This winter has been tough on all of us, especially for children, who get their much-needed exercise outside. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children should get 60 minutes of physical activity daily. That’s difficult – but not impossible – during winter. Here are several things you can do to keep your family moving when stuck inside.

Games in motion: Think about games you can play that keep you and your children moving, whether it’s a game of hide and seek or maybe a game of flashlight tag. Or try animal charades. Draw a picture of an animal on an index card and have the children move like the animal, make noise like the animal, etc. while you try to guess what it is. You’re being active and having fun at the same time.

  • Plugged-in fun: You know it’s important to monitor your children’s screen time – the going advice is two hours a day or less – so put that time to good use by putting in a Wii or Xbox game that makes your child move, whether it’s bowling or tennis.

  • Dance. Put on some tunes and tell everyone to start moving. Dancing is great exercise. A variation on this would be playing Freeze Dance. Start the music and tell the kids that when you stop it, everyone must hold the position they’re in until the music starts up again. It’s easier than it sounds!

  • Get moving elsewhere: When looking at how your family spends its entertainment dollars, opt for an activity that gets you moving. Bundle up the kids and take them to the YMCA for Family Night (it’s free for members; for non-members, there’s a small fee) to swim, play in the gym or see what other activities they have available. Another idea is to head to the bowling alley and play a game or two or check out a roller skating rink.

Keep on an eye on the thermometer or smart phone app and don’t be afraid to send your children outside – as long as they are dressed properly, they can safely play outside as long as the wind chill is above zero. Better yet, join them outside. Going outside and getting fresh air and exercise is good for all of us.

By Michelle Schacht, MD, family physician at ThedaCare Physicians-North in Appleton.