by Sarah Muntel, RD

Winter 2013

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Snow is falling and it’s icy outside. During the winter, it’s a struggle to keep your kids moving. Many parents complain about kids staring at the television for hours on end. With obesity rates rising in children, it’s very important to keep your kids moving no matter what the weather is! The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children engage in physical ACTIVITY one-hour per day. This can be a challenge, so you need to get creative this winter to squeeze in some fitness fun!

Motivate Your Kids to be Active

Let’s face it, kids love TV, video games and sedentary activities. The key is to get your kids to love fitness and MOVEMENT. It’s pretty hard to get a kid interested in a treadmill, but there are many other ways to stay active while having fun as well. Below, please find some ways to motivate your kids and family:

  • Do some research. Find ways to get active by looking online for ideas or finding books at the library. Your kids may read about ice skating online and want to give it a try. They may see a kids yoga video on the Internet and think that looks fun. All kids have different interests. It is important to ask your kids what they would like to do.
  • Explain why kids need to EXERCISE. Kids need to know at an early age exercise is good for their health.
  • Make it a team event. Get the family involved in activities you can do together. Everything is more fun when the whole family is involved.
  • Establish a habit. It may take a while to get used to it, but make fitness a part of your life. Just like brushing your teeth every day, make exercise a part of your normal routine. Some ideas could be walking every evening after dinner, taking a bike ride every Saturday morning or doing some early morning stretches each day.
Fitness Ideas that Work

There are so many ways to get active in the winter both indoors and outdoors. All you have to do is get creative and have a wonderful WINTER.

Indoor Winter Fitness
Take a swim this winter. Swimming isn’t just a summertime activity. Kids actually get more excited to swim in the winter because it’s something new! Check out local YMCA’s or schools for their open swim hours. A couple hours in the pool can be great fun for kids and will get their heart pumping.

Look for open gym times at basketball courts or gymnastic locations. Fitness locations step it up in the winter. This can be a great time to try new things and get moving. You never know, your kids might love gymnastics or want to join a basketball team. When you do an open gym time, you can practice without committing to a full class or season. It’s a great place to start.

Indoor trampoline parks are all the rage! Places like Sky Zone are a hot spot for kids and a great way to get them moving. Open jump, dodge ball and BASKETBALL are fun options. Adults can even join the fun at most places to make it a family event!

Try a new sport and you may love it! There are many winter sports to try. Consider signing your kids up for basketball, indoor TENNIS lessons or ice skating. Even though they may not be great at first, at least they are moving.

Get Outside
Get outside! There are plenty of activities you can do outside with your kids. Make sure you all bundle up to stay warm.

Activities like snow SLEDDING require lots of walking and climbing. Snowball fights can add up to some great cardiovascular exercise as well. No snow? No problem, take a walk or hike or a bike ride. Just be sure you are staying warm.

Have Fun at Home
Make an obstacle course. Transform your basement, garage or living room into a fitness zone. Set up cones, mats or jump ropes. Track each other’s time and see who can complete it in the fastest time. Then mix it up for hours of fun! Dig out some of the summer equipment in the garage and put it to use. Have a hula hoop contest or try jump roping. If you have smaller kids, clearing out the garage for bikes and big wheels is also fun.

Some video games can increase activity as well. Nintendo Wii® or Xbox 360® Kinect can be a really fun way to let kids play video games while being active. Your kids won’t even realize it’s exercise. There are some exercise videos specifically designed for kids. Check out Kids Yoga, Kids Zumba or Kids Kickboxing. Better yet, find a local class for kids!

Get the Family Involved
Have a “FAMILY Fun Night.” Each Sunday at our house, we take turns picking an activity to do as a family. We have had so many interesting nights BOWLING or even dancing in the living room. Doing activities together is the key! Once you start this tradition, your kids won’t let you stop.

In the End

Unfortunately, today one out of three children is affected by childhood obesity. Activity must be a daily commitment from both kids and parents. Sometimes it’s a struggle. Sometimes kids are tired. Sometimes parents are tired. In the end, it’s one of the most important things you can do with your kids. Get them active and set them up for a lifetime of health and WELLNESS.

About the Author:
Sarah Muntel, RD, is a registered dietitian with IU Health Bariatric & Medical Weight-loss. She has worked in bariatrics for the past 12 years and enjoys helping people get to a healthy weight so they can improve their health, feel better about themselves and become more active.