There is no question that winter has officially arrived in New York! As we bundle ourselves and our children for the cold, windy weather and minimize our time outdoors for running to the subway, bus, or catching a cab, it’s a good reminder that we also are limiting the time we spend doing physical activities.
I know, we hear it often....physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with eating healthy, whole foods, physical activity can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death in the United States. Physical activity also helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development and decreases the risk of obesity.
When it comes to children and physical activity—they need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight, though it doesn’t need to be all at one time. Living in New York apartments in the middle of winter often makes this a challenge. So, it’s time to get creative!
Here are a few fun, physical activities to get your children off the couch and using their natural youthful energy.
● Snow, Snow, Snow!
○ Snowmen, snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, snow races—the possibilities are endless. Gather your family and friends and head to the park for an afternoon of winter fun.
● Turn your living room into an obstacle course.
○ Using couch cushions, laundry baskets, kitchen chairs, and a little imagination from you and your child/children, you can create an obstacle course that can be modified to meet your child’s activity levels. Incorporate balance, jumping jacks, and jump ropes if available.
● Take advantage of community centers with indoor space.
○ In New York, there are community centers throughout the city that have indoor pools, basketball courts, ping pong tables, and even free swim lessons.
● Ice skating is a fun activity for the whole family.
● On warmer winter days, bundle your children up and take them to a park either in the neighborhood or venture out to a new park. Click on links below fo rmore info.
○ Be Fit
● Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, and jump ropes.
With all this talk of physical activity, it is important that children also have plenty of sleep. In fact, a recent study found that with each extra hour of sleep, the risk of a child being overweight or obese dropped by nine percent. Most children under age five need to sleep for 11 hours or more per day, children age five to 10 need 10 hours of sleep or more per day, and children over age 10 need at least nine hours per day. So, wear those kids out with fun, physical activities throughout their day, so that your whole family can rest well at night.
We would love to hear from you on how your family incorporates physical activity into your routines during these winter months.
Red Rabbit’s Cooking & Nutrition Instructor