Pretty soon, most of us are going to be moving into the time of year when days get shorter, weather becomes colder and unpredictable, and opportunities for going outside to be active diminish rapidly.
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of activity a day for children, Covid-19 has definitely thrown a wrench into those plans. This winter looks like it will be particularly challenging for parents since the pandemic has moved a lot of PE classes online and taken away their much-needed recess.
While you may be confined indoors for long stretches this winter, there are still a lot of ways you can encourage your child to stay active for their physical and emotional well-being. Here are a few of the “out of the box” ways you can motivate your child to keep moving and stay healthy at this critical time.
Just as school has moved online, so too has exercise. Most gaming systems have a category of games that keep kids moving from Just Dance on Nintendo Wii to the rhythm-oriented Beat Saber for your PC. Find ways to incorporate movement with the systems you already have in the house. As a bonus, recent studies show that kids who use gaming systems to exercise are more likely to exercise regularly without technology later. Your child could be picking up good habits out of the necessity to exercise indoors.
Make it a Family Affair
Since everyone is in the same boat and staying home more this winter, make physical activity a family activity. Try this: Have the family write physical activities that can be done indoors on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Take turns pulling one out every night, and the family can do that activity together. It will not only get everyone moving, but make spending time together fun and functional.
Make Chore Time Active Time
Everyday activities your child already engages in can count as “exercise” as long as they get their heart rate up. Ordinary things like walking the dog, getting the mail, or cleaning their room can become ways of getting activity in.
Make Your Own Home “Gym”
There’s no need to go out and buy a lot of expensive exercise equipment to keep your child active this winter. There are inexpensive and creative ways to keep them moving. Exercise or resistance bands are not only affordable, but they don’t require a lot of room for storage or for the workout. You can also create an obstacle course inside with things you have around the house like cushions, boxes, or pieces of furniture. You might find they have so much fun they want to do it again and again.
There’s a reason that dance fitness classes exist and are still popular - dancing is fun for everyone. According to Healthline, dancing is also a great way to improve both your cardiovascular health and your cognitive performance. You don’t need any fancy equipment or even a lot of space. Just turn on some music and have a family dance party.
Make it a Challenge
Create age-appropriate exercise or activity goals with your child and offer incentive for completing them. For example, if they meet their goals that week, they get to pick the movie for family movie night. Activities could include how many pushups they can do, how quickly they can pick up all their toys and put them away, or how many times they can get through the obstacle course you’ve made. Making a game or challenge of it will motivate them to move even more.
Brave the Outdoors
Winter can be cold and dreary, yes, but it doesn’t have to be completely out of the question. Dress your child in layers, hats, and gloves and go outside once in a while too. Go for a walk in the neighborhood, a bike ride around the block, or if you’re lucky to get snow, go sled riding in the neighborhood. The fresh air may be brisk, but chances are it will do all of you some good.
Whatever you decide to do to keep your child moving this winter, the pediatric team at Johnson Memorial is here to support you in keeping your child healthy from head to toe. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our professionals to discuss your child’s health and safety this season.