Healthy Kids : Keep Kids Active During Winter

By Marta Markman

As winter takes hold in this part of the country, physical activities usually become limited. As a result, kids tend to eat more and move less. Exercise is important, so parents must find ways to get their children active during the cold winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children and adolescents need 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

One of the best ways to help your kids get exercise is to be active with them and make the activities fun. There are many ways for your children to get the exercise they need during winter, both indoors and outdoors.

If you want to stay warm, there are many indoor activities that will allow your children to get the exercise they need, including:

- Get a recreation guide for your community and visit an indoor activity center. Many centers offer indoor swimming and access to recreational sports such as basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, gymnastics and karate.

- If your family owns interactive video game systems such as the Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, or Xbox Kinect, have your children play some of the more physical games such as boxing or dancing to get their heart rate up.

- Dance with them! Put on some fun, upbeat music and your kids will be having so much fun they won't even realize they are exercising.

- Walk around your local shopping mall. Your children will get exercise and entertainment at the same time.

- Have an indoor scavenger hunt -- this will send your kids running to every corner and end of the house in search of their next clue.

- Visit your city's local aquarium, science center or museums. In doing so, your children will be walking and learning simultaneously.

Fresh air will boost your children's mood, so let them outside to run around and play. And if it's snowing, all the more fun! Just be sure to bundle your kids up with lots of layers to keep warm. Some outdoor activities include:

- Take your kids out in the snow. They can go sledding, build snowmen, have snowball fights, make snow angels and build snow forts or igloos.

- Let your kids help you shovel the sidewalk. Give them a small shovel and a section of the sidewalk to shovel, and they will get exercise and feel like they are helping out.

- Hold your own winter Olympics. Set up some games such as hula-hooping, snowman-building, an egg toss, jump-roping or even a sled-pulling contest for the kids to participate in.

- Visit your neighborhood playground.

There are so many activities that you can do with your children to get them the exercise they need this winter. Don't let the cold weather keep them from being active and having fun!

Dr. Marta Markman is a MedStar Harbor Hospital pediatrician at MedStar HealthPark Pediatrics,8109 Ritchie Highway in Pasadena. For more information or to make an appointment, call 410-590-8826 or visit www.MedStarHarbor.org/Pediatrics.

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