It’s not easy keeping kids physically active. It’s even more difficult when the weather turns cold.
Sending your children outside is easy in summer. You can go for a hike, play soccer in the park, or ride a bike. When the weather turns wet and cold, it’s a lot harder to justify exercise. Watching a movie and playing a video game on the couch are the easiest ways to pass the time.
Staying fit in winter is much more difficult for kids and parents. Physical fitness takes a back seat in cold or rain. Not to worry, we can help. We have eight safe, kid-friendly ideas for having fun and staying fit, even in winter.
Activity and fitness are not only important for children’s physical health, but their mental health as well. Scheduling time for activities and making it a regular behavior, rather than a special event, will make the long days stuck inside much easier for you and the children.
Let’s look at a few fun indoor activities for kids of all ages and their families.
While you can’t stretch your legs or sprint in the house, you can set up simple races that get the body moving. Try a crab walk race, or a bear walk in the open space in the basement. Do a timed race down a hallway. Mix things up with a hopping-on-one-foot race, or try walking backwards to not only improve physical fitness, but balance as well.
A good game of charades not only gets kids thinking and helps stimulate the imagination, it can also be a fun physical activity. For example, one category in charades could be animals, encouraging the child work on their animal walk. The bear walk, penguin walk and even stalking like a lion can get kids moving while having fun.
You can quickly and easily set up a fun obstacle course in the house using stuffed animals, pots, pans, chairs and tables. Move breakables out of the way and set up safety rules before you play. Set up stations in the obstacle course where kids can do exercises like sit-ups and push-ups. Make the game even more fun by having them crab walk through the course. Use a timer and track improvement with practice.
A good dance party is appropriate any time of year, and it’s hard not to have fun when the music is on and everyone is feeling the rhythm. Working with a dance instructor, you can learn some choreography and practice at home. Even if you don’t have a coach it’s as easy as finding some good music and a little space for dancing. Set a timer and have everyone join in. Mix things up with games like freeze dance, or just hold a high-energy dance-off.
Set physical challenges for kids every morning. Provide a reward for hitting milestones. Set a baseline with the number of sit-ups, push-ups, or an activity as simple as stretches. Then increase the number daily. Make sure to join them and set your own challenges. Schedule time for the exercise and set up a chart to track progress.
It may sound silly, but yoga is a great way to improve physical fitness and mental health. Spending 30 minutes a day on yoga can provide an activity boost, help with balance, flexibility and strength, and enhance energy and mood. Schedule some time in the morning for yoga and let the children pick the video or online trainer they like the most. Make it a habit, especially for families quarantining.
There are video games out there that can get kids off the couch and moving. Look for dance games like Just Dance! that ask kids to mimic moves or games that focus on fitness like Fitness Boxing or Zumba. Make sure to clear out space for the game and set safety rules before you start. After that, let the competition and fun begin!
A scavenger hunt is a fun physical activity, even in the house. Spice things up by making it a challenge, like finding a pencil while walking backwards, or getting a certain book first and then doing five jumping jacks. Change up daily chores by making them a game. See who can find a cup that needs to be washed first. Simple prizes for the challenges make the game even more worthwhile for kids.
It’s easy to fall into a bad fitness habit, especially during cold winter months when the weather gives all of us the blahs.
By offering kids plenty of options for physical activity and making it fun (and making it a habit), you can keep the family happy and healthy all year long.
Make sure to check out our other blogs, including our list of fun physical activities for kids, for additional inspiration. Let us know what activities you’re doing in the comments and keep an eye on our blog for more great ideas for making fitness a priority for your family!