Encouraging active living with our families – Part 4

Get the whole family to move more through physical activities and sit less.

Just because it is cold outside does not mean we have to stop our family physical activities. This seems to be a challenge to all families during colder weather. Depending on the weather we can still do many activities outside, especially during the fall season. I know my children enjoyed playing in the leaves and raking (somewhat). Fall is also a great time for walking the nature trails. We can talk to children about how nature is preparing for winter. Have them take note of the animals getting heavier coats to keep warm. If possible, continue to walk to get books from the library, then act out the story and have the kids dress up to conduct a play.

We need to continue our physical activity with our families despite the temperature outside. Michigan State University Extension recommends that adults get 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week (preferable all days) and that children get at least 60 minutes. The goal is to be able to be physically active for free, or at the least low-cost and to make it fun!

Music and dancing is a great activity to get our bodies up and moving. Let the kids make their own instruments with pots and pans. Another great moving activity is having the kids build forts to try a camping trip indoors. I used to get out a small plastic pool and put it on an old plastic shower curtain. We would fill it with a little bit of sand and let them have an indoor beach party and even get suits on. We would then have a picnic lunch on the floor wearing our sun glasses. On the other hand, I used to bring in snow to put in the pool and have them put gloves on and play during the winter.

During the winter you could take the children sledding, using a simple cardboard box, just make sure the children are bundled up with coats, scarfs, hats and gloves in the colder weather. Depending on how cold it is outside, try to limit the time so that they do not get too cold or frost-bite. Always bring water and snacks as our bodies need the nourishment with any physical activity. Even in cold weather we can sweat.

Remember to always make it fun and interactive and to consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise program. For more information about active play with your child, read the Nibbles for Health newsletters.

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