If summer is the time to let it all hang out, fall and winter are the months in which we find ourselves buttoning up – literally and figuratively. Less daylight and more precipitation – whether rain, sleet or snow – can make getting outdoors an uninviting prospect. And with the ubiquitous nature of technology, children are spending more time in front of a screen – cell phone, computer or television. But staying indoors doesn’t have to be a sedentary choice.
Children between the ages of 6 and 17 need at least one hour daily of moderate activity to stay healthy and fit. If your child isn’t a self-starter, consider doing something active together. Children follow by example. If you want your children to stay active, you need to model what that looks like. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work; children are wired differently and have unique preferences in terms of what grabs – and holds – their interests. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about developmentally appropriate activities for your child.
Follow these suggestions to get your child on the move at home or in any number of public spaces:
- Turn on the radio (and turn off the TV). Find music your kids like listening to and encourage them to turn it up and dance. Younger children might enjoy dancing while playing musical instruments – whether it’s a set of maracas or a wooden spoon and a pot from the kitchen.
- March to the mall. When it’s chilly and wet outside, head to the mall, where you can stretch your legs while warm and dry. Some malls house indoor play areas where younger children can climb and roam to their heart’s content.
- Field trip. Taking your kids to a gallery or museum on the weekend will expose them to culture while keeping them on their feet.
- Clean house. If your children are old enough, enlist their help for household chores such as dusting, vacuuming and sweeping.
- Check out fitness. Head to the library and check out age-appropriate music, dance or fitness programs that will get your child off the sofa and on her feet. Keep in mind, however, that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one to two hours of “screen” time each day – which includes TV, video games and recreational use of the computer.
- Nurture with nature. The Pacific Northwest’s outdoor recreation is bountiful. Pull out the map and point. You’ve just located your next destination for outdoor adventure. Dress appropriately, pack healthy snacks and enjoy hiking through a state park, skiing one of the region’s many slopes or beachcombing at the coast.
- Build community. Find a local recreation or community center that offers indoor space to move or classes that will keep your little ones in motion. Figure out their passion – whether ballet or martial arts – and sign them up.
- Pet project. If you’re the designated dog-walker, invite your child along for the stroll. Not only is it an opportunity to move – you can also check in to see how your child’s day is going.
- Holiday cheer. ’Tis the season for holiday lights. Consider taking your child or children for a walk through the neighborhood to see the sights and lights – and log a few steps.