Keeping Fit In The Winter Months

Summer camp is packed with fun and challenging physical activities.  A variety of sports, games and events keep us moving and feeling great. But what happens during the school year, when the weather gets cooler, the days get shorter and we are limited in the number of outdoor activities we can engage in?  If you live in the Northeast, and spent any time outside this weekend, you probably felt a chill in the air and were faced with the reality that winter is quickly approaching.  The cold weather may be invigorating to some, but tends to create  The availability of fewer outdoor activities, along with the desire to hibernate during the winter months can negatively impact our health.  Physical activity is important year round, especially in children and teens.  Research shows that kids who are physically fit are academically motivated, alert and successful.  When kids engage in regular exercise, they build endurance, strength and flexibility.  Regular exercise also helps kids develop stronger muscles and bones, control weight, decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, sleep better, and have a better outlook on life.  Overall, exercise is important to good health, and gives kids an advantage to better handle physical and emotional challenges. 

Let’s remember all the great things Tara “Fitness” talks about and teaches us all summer long – then implement them in the winter months.  Between the early morning fitness classes and her regular activity classes in the fitness center, we get a terrific workout all summer long.  Whether in the fitness studio doing things like core conditioning, kick boxing or agility training, or spinning in the spin studio, or lifting weights in the weight room, these are all great things to do all winter long to keep us fit. 
Kidshealth.orgreports that the percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens has more than doubled in the past 30 years.  And according to, only half of children and teens ages 12-21 exercise regularly, more than 15% of all school children are considered obese or overweight, and approximately 7% of children who are obese suffer from sleep apnea.  Factors like spending too much time in front of the television, video games and online,  greater academic demands, busy family lives, and increased portion sizes in restaurants, all contribute to the these findings.  But whatever the reason, it’s important to keep kids moving and in good health. 
The National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends that all children should exercise for at least one hour a day.  We all need to encourage kids to make the time and effort to do some form of exercise that they enjoy. Here are some great ways to motivate kids, and the entire family, to exercise and stay healthy:
Establish a regular schedule for physical activity – Find the time that works best for your family, and sign up for an after school sport, after homework dance class, or after dinner walk with the dog.  Kids are more likely to stick with activities that become a part of their daily routine.
Make it Interesting– Mix it up by suggesting a variety of physical activities to participate in.  Be spontaneous and keep kids enthusiastic.  If the weather is on the mild side, grab the kids and take a hike.  On snowy days, get outside and build a snowman.
Keep a Record– Keep track of everyone’s progress.  Having a visual of activities kids have engaged in is a perfect way for them to feel accomplished and successful, as well as a great motivator for setting future exercise goals. 
Get involved in Community – Find a cause that is near and dear to your heart and sign the family up for a 5K walk/run.  It’s a great way to exercise and feel terrific about giving back to local charities and communities in need. 
Let it Snow– When the first snowfall hits, grab the kids and their snow gear and head to the nearest hill for a day of sledding.  It’s a fantastic way to connect with friends and neighbors, have fun and get great exercise.
Plug in to Healthy Videos– Put on video games that require movement.  Get moving to a dance video, sports challenge, or just jamming in a family rock band.  Its quality family time that will definitely make you sweat.
Be a Positive Role Model – Limit your own texting and social media time and embrace an active lifestyle.  Studies show that active lifestyles learned as children are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood.  Lead by example.

So keep moving, keep it fun, and keep kids active all year long!