Staying active — both physically and mentally — when it's cold outside is always a challenge. But staying active is necessary for all of us to stay healthy and happy during the cold of winter. It's especially important for our growing children. How can we encourage our kids — and ourselves — to keep our brains and bodies moving when it's cold outside?
Here are 10 ideas to keep active as a family this winter:
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1. Unless it is dangerously cold, get them outside!
Keep an eye on the "feels like" temperature to know if it's safe to be outside for an extended period of time. Fresh air always wins, even when it's cold out, but kids (and adults) need to be dressed appropriately and not stay outside too long if it is super cold. Snow pants, a winter coat, a hat, and waterproof gloves are a must when out in the snow. If you're supervising from inside, keep an eye on the time. Even 15-20 minutes outside is better than nothing.
2. Hold a scavenger hunt
Being active doesn't always have to mean working up a sweat! Set up a scavenger hunt around the house for little kids. If your kids are older, have them set up hunts for each other. They'll be running all over the house finding (or planting) clues.
3. Dance party!
Put on your family's favorite tunes and bounce around! This will get your heartbeat thumping and your blood flowing. Make up a dance routine for everyone to learn. Plus it raises endorphins, which can put anyone in a good mood. If you have a game console, "Just Dance" is a great way for the whole family to get exercise while also giving your kids that video game fix. Another great option? GoNoodle.com. My kids' teachers use GoNoodle as a reward in their classrooms. This kid-safe, free site has Just Dance-like videos and Kidz Bop songs to dance and sing along to. No game console is needed!
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Make sure everyone has a chance to seek! Want a fun variation? Try hide-and-seek sardines! One person hides and the rest of the family seeks. When you find the hider, squeeze in with them into their hiding place and wait for the next person to find you both!
5. Do a puzzle or art project
Sometimes being active isn't about physical activity at all! It's just as important to keep your brain active and challenged. Work on a challenging puzzle as a family, or create artwork together. Both engage your brain and help you spend quality time together.
6. Try charades, Simon Says, and musical chairs
These simple games are fun for all ages — and all that laughing is great for your stomach muscles!
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7. Clean house
I know you think I'm crazy for suggesting this, but especially young kids want to help around the house. Give them a broom while you vacuum, or a cloth to wipe the counters. They may not actually do much cleaning, but they enjoy helping you — and they're moving at the same time.
8. Build a fort
Haul blankets, sheets, chairs, boxes, or whatever else you have on hand to create an epic fort — often the most fun is in the creation! Put it in a room where you don't mind if the kids leave it up for a few days so they can keep adding to it and inventing creative games to play inside.
9. Run the stairs
Challenge each other to see who can get up the stairs the fastest.
10. Find virtual workout classes for the whole family
There are so many online family workouts, mindfulness, and yoga classes you can take, and many of them are free on YouTube or other sites. Simply search what you're looking for and try a few out to find hosts you connect with!
This article originally appeared in Macaroni Kid Family Wellness.