Get Up, Get Out, & Get Moving!
By: Megan Smith, PT, DPT
The winter months are fully here, but the importance of daily physical activity remains. As the seasons change and COVID cases continue to increase I wanted to provide some tools, ideas and inspiration for keeping kids active while staying safe this winter.
The CDC and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend that all children and adolescents participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per a day. Moderate intensity is defined as activity that increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate and vigorous intensity substantially increases breathing, sweating, and heart rate. These active times add up throughout the day and can include time spent in physical education, sports practices, free play as well as planned exercises. Children often achieve this minimum amount in 5-10 minute bursts throughout the day. It is not expected for children to obtain the 60 minute minimum all at once. (1,2)
Regular participation in different types of physical activity is essential for healthy growth and development. Evidence shows that physical activity can have a beneficial effect on body composition, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, aerobic fitness, muscular strength, movement skills, and bone health. Regular physical activity can also improve academic performance and promote feelings of wellbeing. Physical activity also impacts children (and adults) mental health and can improve alertness, energy and mood as well as increases self-esteem, and decreases anxiety and stress. (1,3)
The positive lifestyle behaviors such as participating in daily physical activity that begin during childhood and adolescence tend to carry over into adulthood. In the long run, daily participation in outdoor games, fitness activities and recreational sports will help to improve the health and well-being of all children and adolescents. This can help decrease adulthood lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. (2)
The winter months can be a tricky time to keep kids active and with social distancing and other precautions in place, barriers to physical activity and exercise may seem to be ever increasing. Here is a list of both indoor and outdoor activities to help provide ideas to keep the kiddos active while staying home.
- Snowball fight with siblings/parents
- Snowball tag- a winter twist on the game of tag. Whomever is “it” builds/throws snowballs while others avoid trying to get hit. If you get hit you are “it”.
- Go sledding- and have the kids walk back up the hill in order to go again
- Go for a walk- even though it is getting cold a walk with the family and the dog is still a great way to get exercise, just make sure you bundle up
- Try a new winter activity- snowshoeing, cross country skiing or ice skating while practicing safe social distancing
- Play freeze dance- dancing to your child’s favorite music helps keep them engaged while being physically active and practicing listening skills.
- Play twister or Simon says- both of these games work on body awareness and following directions
- Animal walks- Have your child imitate their favorite animals
- Bear- walking on hands and feet
- Kangaroo-jump as far as you can
- Crab walks
- Horse- gallop or skip
- Penguin- walking on their heels waddling
- Flamingo- stand on 1 foot; then the other
- Frog jumps
- Snake- army crawl
- Inchworm- walk hands out on the ground then walk feet up to join them
- Starfish- jumping in the air spreading hands and feet (star jumps)
- Homemade obstacle course
- Set out the couch cushions or pillows to challenge balance
- Use painters tape or masking tape to make lines to walk on like a balance beam
- Use stuffed animals to practice jumping over
- Set up chairs to crawl under/over
- Use balled up socks to practice throwing into the laundry basket
- Use hula-hoops to jump in and out of
- Use cones or stuffed animals to run around
- Exercise videos
- Cosmic kids yoga
- Youtube- type in kids exercise video workout for plenty of videos to choose from.
- Make a “laser maze” to navigate through with string/streamers to work on body awareness
- Create an exercise jar- write different exercises on popsicle sticks/paper slips. Have your child pick 5-10 exercises to complete each day.
- Ideas: high knees, lunges, step ups, jumping on 1 foot, jumping jacks, superman, plank, side plank, wall push ups, wall sits, skipping, squats, balance on one foot, walking backwards/sideways, crunches, jump rope, mountain climbers, butt kickers, side lunges, star jumps, leg raises, burpees etc.
1) American College of Sports Medicine, Riebe, D., Ehrman, J. K., Liguori, G., & Magal, M. (2018). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (Tenth edition.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
2) “Youth Physical Activity Guidelines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 May 2019, www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm.
3) Biddle, S. J., & Asare, M. (2011). Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: a review of reviews. British journal of sports medicine, 45(11), 886–895.