As we head into the depths of winter in most parts of the country it’s easy for kids to fall into a troubling path of a sedentary and less active lifestyle due to the frigid temperatures outside. Even through the cold, kids need their daily exercise. According to the National Association of Sport and Physical Education, kids ages 5-12 should exercise for at least 60 minutes of each day, and this figure doesn’t take a break just because it’s cold outside. Therefore, there needs to be healthy options for kids to play inside and outside during the cold winter months.
Adults need to take on the responsibility of setting up the opportunities for kids to get active during the winter months. In under-resourced communities, space and equipment are often defining factors in what types of activities kids are offered. Adults should consider more non-traditional games and activities that require some ingenuity to get the kids engaged and moving, from relay races to dancing.
Adults also need to see the opportunities still available to kids outside during the winter months. We shouldn’t be fearful of the outdoors and should encourage kids to dress properly and play some games outside if the weather is conducive. Kids love to play in the snow and there are plenty of winter sports kids can learn to love. Parents can modify some of the games in the winter Olympics to play in back gardens, or just have old fashioned sledging races on trays or plastic bags.
Getting each child 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis isn’t easy. We owe it to our children to create a strategic plan and coordinate efforts to make this time fun and healthy. The payoff will be huge in terms of the overall physical and mental well-being of the children.