Keeping your children active through winter | Kids Out and About Rochester

Keeping your children active through winter

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You may find the challenge of keeping your kids active when the snow piles up and the temperatures drop daunting.

It’s hard to resist the temptation to retreat to the couch, flick on the TV and hibernate until spring.

“But physical activity, even in the winter, is critical to the health of all children,” said Janette Westman, health and wellness consultant, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “Parents could encourage exercise by making it a priority for the entire family, and by making sure the activities are fun and easy to do for all involved.”

Families and Exercise

Exercise builds strong muscles and bones, prevents obesity, builds confidence and reduces children’s risk of developing chronic diseases.

Children and adolescents need an hour or more of physical activity daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They need a combination of aerobic activity (ie: running), muscle strengthening (ie: gymnastics) and bone strengthening (ie: jumping rope).

“Parents could also plan family activities weekly and a special outdoor excursion once a month to make sure everyone is being active and having fun as a family,” said Westman of Excellus BCBS.

Ideas for active fun this winter

Here are some recommendations for active winter fun from Excellus BCBS:

Get out and play!

Skiing

Many slopes offer lessons for young first-timers, whether for downhill or cross-country skiing. Skiing is a great exercise that can bolster children’s upper and lower body strength, flexibility and balance. Click HERE for a list of skiing locations.

Snowshoeing

A low-impact sport for the entire family. It’s an easy-to-learn, inexpensive sport that can be done in your back yard or at local trails. Read this article on snowshoeing for more information.

Sledding

This time-honored tradition is an easy one to indulge in at this time of year. Click HERE for a list of some of the best sledding hills in Rochester and HERE for sledding safety tips.

Snow tag

Rules will vary. But generally, one person is “it” and must throw snowballs at the others while they run and hide. When someone is hit, that person becomes “it.” The last person left is the winner.

More

Don’t forget that a walk around the block with the family, ice skating and building snowmen, snow angels and forts in your backyard also counts as physical activity.

Click on this retail finder to find a local place to rent winter sports equipment, such as snowshoes.


When it’s too cold to venture outside

Cook as a family

This is a great alternative to spending the afternoon in front of the TV. The more involved kids are in the shopping, preparing and making of healthy treats and meals, the more likely they’ll indulge in the good-for-you foods. Check out these recipes from KidsHealth.org and Fruits and Veggies – More Matters.org.

Games

Create your own indoor obstacle course! Get out the chairs, pillows, blankets and other obstacle course essentials and let your children test their balance and coordination skills in your family room.

Hold a jump rope or hula hoop contest in your basement or garage. Jumping rope, for example, is a great aerobic and bone strengthening activity.

Use tape to construct your own hopscotch court or balance beam in your garage or basement.

Playing fitness games on Nintendo’s Wii or Xbox 360’s Kinect, frequenting swimming facilities and bowling alleys and engaging in indoor sports such as soccer or gymnastics are also fun ways to get your children active this winter.


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