Summer can seem an easy time to keep children on their feet. The weather is warm, so they can run around outside, plus there’s no school keeping them sedentary in a classroom chair.
And you hardly need us to tell you about the benefits of physical activity – regular exercise boosts mental health and wellbeing, including sleep, self-esteem and mood. It also encourages creative play and assists with stress management. The reality is that inactive kids are more likely to grow up to become equally inactive adults. There’s also extensive evidence pointing to the link between being active and reduced risk of major illnesses from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and cancer.
And, of course, youngsters need to stay fit all year round, not just when it’s warm enough to play outside.
Ensuring your children are active during the colder months
So how can you ensure your children keep moving at around this time of year, when they’re back at school and the mercury is dropping?
Here are our tips for winter:
Don’t be afraid to go outside
It may have turned colder, but don’t let that stop you from wrapping up warm and enjoying some quality time in the fresh air. Use playgrounds, parks and outdoor gyms as much as possible, walk to school or encourage the younger members of the family to exercise the dog. Turn your hike into a nature ramble in which you collect cones, leaves and the like, or, if you can, a treasure hunt to make the whole thing enjoyable. If all else fails, most kids will be up for a bit of good old-fashioned puddle jumping.
Family bike rides are another great idea. Research where to go by Googling river rides near you – they tend to be flat!
Throw a dance party
Stick on some music and dance around, especially if the weather is particularly dire. Just jumping around will keep you warm and moving, while also being huge fun. Make this part of your after-school routine, maybe using it as a time when the kids can call out what they learned at school that day in time to the beats. You could even throw in some funky glow sticks.
Take it inside
Especially in the depths of winter, think about how your children can move around under a roof. A gym won’t be to every kid’s taste. Instead, think trampoline parks, ice rinks, climbing walls and soft-play areas where they can burn off some energy.
Keep it fun
You can be a bit sneaky and get kids to work out without even realising they’re exercising. Think games like Twister, Wii, basketball hoops and indoor or outdoor obstacle courses.
In short, there are many ways to keep kids moving all year round. Equally, don’t forget the importance of other aspects of wellbeing, including proper hydration (which can be easier to forget when it’s cooler), getting enough sleep and a healthy diet.
If you have a junior golfer in the family, keeping them fit and active through the colder months will stand them in good stead for the new season, and allow them to get back into the swing of their game that much more quickly.