Keeping active during the season you'd ideally spend hibernating under the bedcovers is a challenge for parents and kids alike. But if the very idea of cold weather makes you shiver, take heart: You don't have to brave bone-chilling temperatures to stay healthy in winter. Many indoor activities can keep your brood fit during those long, chilly months. "The trick is to make activities about having fun, not about health or fitness," says Laura Williams, founder of the website GirlsGoneSporty.com. "Kids don't worry about reducing their risk of high blood pressure or diabetes. They identify with playing games and having a great time."
To keep your kids fit and healthy this winter, here are three ideas from our experts to keep things moving all season long:
Stay-healthy Tip No. 1: Create an Activities Arsenal. Fill an easily accessible box or closet with a supply of kid-friendly music CDs and versatile tools that encourage movement. "Paper plates are like indoor ice skates when children place them under their feet. They can really get everyone moving and chasing (under supervision, of course) when there's some great music playing," says Amy Otey, a musical fitness advocate based in Princeton, N.J. Other fun props include small blowup beach balls, tennis balls and jump ropes. "Opening the arsenal for even 10 or 15 minutes gets the kids excited," says Otey -- and gets them active.
Stay-healthy Tip No. 2: Get Dancing. Twisting. Singing. Jumping. Jiving. Dancing is great for legs, lungs and laughs. "Even the shyest children are willing to let loose in their own home," says Otey. Try to keep a space clear of clutter, fragile objects and big furniture to encourage movement. Take a dancing break every day, and hold dancing contests when friends come over. Kids really ham it up when they know they're on camera, so videotape the whole affair and then view together over hot chocolate.
Stay-healthy Tip No. 3: Make the Most of Screen Time. Think beyond DVDs and uploads. Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake, available on Amazon, showcases live performances of classic ballets, and between acts teaches young viewers real ballet steps. Also don't dismiss your at-home gaming system. "They really can get kids moving," says Williams. "Kinect Sensor with Kinect Adventures! is, hands down, a better system for encouraging activity, since there's no remote control, and a motion sensor attached to the top of the TV can tell if you are actually running or jumping."
Peg Rosen has contributed to numerous magazines and websites, including Healthy Kids, MORE, Redbook, SELF, Real Simple, Parents, Family Circle, American Baby, ParentCenter.com and WebMD.com. She blogs at Relish-This.Blogspot.com.
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