The holidays are a magical time for kids from family get-togethers and festive meals to the joys of opening presents.
It’s a time of year for hot cocoa, throwing an extra comforter on the bed, and snuggling up by a warm fire, but when it’s cold outside, it can be hard to keep kids physically active.
It isn’t shocking then that researchers found that “children are less active in autumn and winter compared to other times of the year.”
It’s an important topic because, according to Forbes, “data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 2 in 5 adults are obese, and nearly 1 in 5 children are obese. Furthermore, 19 states in America have obesity rates over 35 percent, increased from 16 states just last year. A decade ago, no states had obesity rates above 35 percent!”
The study cited in Science Daily says that initiatives aimed at encouraging physical activity amongst children during the winter are crucial.
“Physical activity is important for children's health and development, but many do not get enough exercise," says the study's first author Dr Andrew Atkin, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit and CEDAR. "During spring and summer, when the weather is better and the days are longer, they tend to be playing out and more active, but during the darker, colder months, they are much less active."
Remember, your local playgrounds and parks are open year-round, so bundle up the children and let them play on even colder days!
Here are 18 winter activities for kids to keep them happy and healthy during the colder months (even if it snows in your area!):
Put your mittens and ski caps on and try these outdoor activities:
- Winter Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of winter-themed items for kids to find, encouraging exploration and observation.
- Winter Hiking: Explore local trails with a winter hike, providing a unique perspective of nature in colder months. You can turn a simple winter walk into an adventure by collecting different colored leaves, twigs, and pinecones. Bonus: use these treasures for nature crafts later.
- Outdoor Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course, promoting physical activity and problem-solving skills.
- Winter Treasure Hunt: Hide clues around the yard or neighborhood leading to a hidden "treasure." Let imagination run wild with riddles and themed costumes!
- Ice Skating: Whether on a natural frozen pond or at a local ice rink, ice skating is a fantastic way to improve balance and coordination. Just remember to check for safety conditions first when ice skating outdoors.
- Sledding: A classic winter activity that provides both thrill and exercise. Find a safe hill and enjoy the ride. In many communities, the local school or park becomes the social spot for sledding fun.
- Snowball Fight: Have a friendly snowball fight, promoting teamwork and physical activity. Build forts, strategize, and get ready for some frosty fun! Make sure, however, there is some supervision to avoid injuries!
- Build a Snow Fort: Foster teamwork and creativity by building a snow fort or igloo.
- Snowman Building Contest: Encourage creativity by having a friendly competition to build the most unique or tallest snowman.
- Winter Family Fitness Challenge: Design a fun exercise circuit with winter-themed activities like jumping jacks, snowman squats, and snowball throws. Track progress and celebrate accomplishments together.
Now let’s head indoors but find some activities to keep the blood flowing and bodies healthy:
- Indoor Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course using household items like cushions, chairs, and hula hoops. Create challenges such as crawling under tables, jumping over obstacles, and balancing on designated spots. This activity promotes coordination, balance, and overall physical activity.
- Dance Party: Clear some space in the living room, play upbeat music, and have a dance party. Encourage kids to freestyle dance or teach them simple dance routines. Dancing is a fantastic way to get their hearts pumping and improve motor skills. Alternative activity: Dance Freeze Tag -- When the music stops, everyone must freeze in their positions. The last one to freeze is "it" for the next round. To make it more challenging, add specific movement instructions like jumping, spinning, or touching different body parts to the floor.
- Balloon Volleyball: Create an indoor volleyball game using balloons as the "ball." Set up a makeshift net using a string or a piece of tape, and have kids volley the balloon back and forth. This activity improves hand-eye coordination and provides a fun way to stay active.
- Yoga for Kids: Introduce a kid-friendly yoga session. There are many online resources and videos specifically designed for children that include simple yoga poses and movements. Yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, and mindfulness.
- Indoor Mini Basketball: Set up a mini basketball hoop on the back of a door and let kids shoot mini basketballs into the hoop. Create a mini-basketball tournament or challenge them to make trick shots. This activity enhances hand-eye coordination, and motor skills, and provides a good workout.
- Indoor Scavenger Hunt with a Twist: Hide clues around the house that involve physical activities like jumping jacks, squats, lunges, or holding a plank for a certain time. Solve the riddle, complete the movement, and race to the next clue for an active and brain-teasing adventure!
- Living Room Olympics: Set up mini-games like balloon volleyball, blanket relay races, or sock-skating across the floor. Award silly medals, cheer each other on, and celebrate everyone's efforts in this fun and active indoor competition.
- Balloon Pop Countdown: Write different exercises on small pieces of paper and place one inside a balloon before inflating it. Activities could include things like "10 jumping jacks" or "5 burpees." Create a countdown by popping one balloon every minute, and have the kids perform the exercise written inside. This not only keeps them active but adds an element of surprise and anticipation.
To keep things fresh, rotate activities every week or let everyone take turns suggesting new challenges. You can even turn it into a themed week, like "Jungle Adventure" or "Space Explorers," and incorporate the theme into your activities.
Remember, the key is to have fun and get moving!