Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, but when temperatures drop, helping children get the daily recommended 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity can be a challenge.
Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Don't let the cold months of winter be an excuse to cut back on your family’s exercise routine. Consider these steps for keeping children active this winter:
Cold weather doesn't mean you have to say good-bye to all outdoor activity. Winter can be a great time to get outside and keep fit — for you and your family. Make it easier to get outdoors by organizing outdoor clothing in one place near the door. Give each child a box, bin or basket for mittens, scarves and hats. Help beat cabin fever by going outside to play on as many days as you can.
Looking for a playground on a sunny winter day? Find a playground near you at www.playspacefinder.kaboom.org. The website has an iPhone app that lets you search for playgrounds on your phone while you’re on the go.
If you’re heading outdoors, bring along a backpack, enough water for everyone to stay hydrated, and healthy snacks – like an apple, baby carrots, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit or whole grain pretzels.
As with all outdoor activities, it's important to take the proper precautions to stay safe. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, be sure that your family is well protected against the cold. Layers work best: begin with an undergarment made of a synthetic fiber that will wick away perspiration. A light shirt or turtleneck can go over that, followed by a sweater or fleece for warmth. Kids can always remove or add layers if needed. Don't forget a hat, gloves, and sunglasses. Apply sunscreen — snow functions as a reflecting agent and can intensify the sun's rays on skin, so kids can get a sunburn even during winter.
One more way to protect your family so they can stay active during the winter months is to get a flu shot. To find a flu shot clinic near you, and for more winter health and safety tips, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.