by Dawn Franzen, M.Ed.
It is easy to get plenty of exercise during the temperate months. But what do you do during the winter if you live in a cold-weather climate? A little creativity is necessary to keep up your child’s fitness level on below-zero days.
Check out the indoor facilities in your area, such as local gyms, the YMCA, and community colleges and local schools that offer community education programs. You should be able to find an indoor activity your child will enjoy.
Commercial outlets like rock-climbing gyms and kids’ gyms have become increasingly popular. Many offer not only scheduled classes but drop-in times for an hour or two of bouncing around.
Basketball, bowling volleyball, floor and ice hockey, and indoor soccer are popular winter sports. Roller skating rinks and ice skating rinks both indoor and outdoor are perfect for this time of year. Make skating a Friday night or Saturday morning family ritual.
And as Lady Gaga sings, “just dance.” Play everyone’s favorite music and make up your own heart-pumping moves.
On snow days, bundle up and head outside. Have snow-shoveling races for an excellent cardiovascular workout (though be careful not to overdo it!). Throw snowballs at targets to build strength and flexibility. Go sledding—you’ll all get plenty of exercise hauling your sleds, saucers, and toboggans back up the slope for another downhill run!
Play “Where’s Big Foot?” (a.k.a. “Snow Hide-and-Seek”). While your children close their eyes, make a path in the snow, back-tracking occasionally to add a little fun confusion, and find some place to hide. They have to follow the path to find you.
Have your own “Winter Olympics”! Jump over snow hurdles, heave a snow “discus,” do a standing snow jump. Snow provides natural resistance, which helps build muscle. (Anyone who has shoveled a driveway knows that all too well!)
Take advantage of warm spots
Become more aware of the warm days that often happen in winter—those January and February thaws that make it seem spring is just around the corner! On these days, encourage your kids to get outside and shoot some hoops, ride bikes and enjoy the respite, however short-lived it may be.
A parent and frequent contributor to St. Louis Parent Magazine, Dawn Franzen, M.Ed., has taught with the Summer Academies and Learning Labs of the Gifted Resource Council in St. Louis.