Many families struggle to remain physically active when the days become shorter and winter weather settles in. Video games and other electronics can be irresistible to kids who would rather spend time indoors than outside in the cold. At times, you may feel you’re fighting a losing battle to keep your kids moving.
If your children tend to become couch potatoes through the fall and winter seasons, you are not alone. Countless parents are in the same boat, trying to motivate their kids to engage in healthy physical activity. If you need some inspiration to get your littles up and going, here are eight ways to promote movement all year long.
- Make Physical Activity Simple
You don’t have to buy fancy workout equipment or engage in complicated exercises to promote physical fitness. Try keeping things simple and watch how your kids respond. Walking is one of the easiest activities human beings can engage in, but it offers a multitude of health benefits.
Walking regularly can boost cardiovascular health and feelings of well-being. It can also improve immune function and strengthen bones. One way to make walking fun is by giving each of your children a kids watch that tracks daily steps. At the end of each day, praise your children for meeting (or working toward) their step goals.
- Provide Appropriate Gear
There are many fun activities families can do in the wintertime, provided they have the right gear. Sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating are all excellent wintertime activities that promote healthy movement. If you want your kids to get out and enjoy the snow, make sure they’re dressed appropriately first.
Warm winter coats, hats, snow pants, snow boots, and gloves can help stave off frostbite in very cold weather. Don’t forget helmets and goggles if you plan to take your children snowmobiling, skiing, or snowboarding this winter.
- Make Movement a Family Affair
Most activities become more fun when you do them with other people. Your kids may whine and moan if you suggest they put down the electronics and go play in the yard. Instead, volunteer to go sledding with them or take them to the park and see how quickly they respond.
When the entire family makes a goal to become more physically active, the drudgery of movement tends to melt away. You’ll worry less about your children’s physical activity levels because you’ll be side by side with them in movement. The family that plays together stays (healthy) together.
- Purchase Active Toys
A lot of toys and games promote sedentary lifestyles. As a parent, you are most likely painfully aware of that fact. Fortunately, there are also plenty of toys and games that inspire kids to get moving. If your kids sit around at home too much and aren’t in good physical shape, change the toys you buy.
Skateboards, jump ropes, frisbees, balls, and other active toys can prompt your children to move their bodies more often. These toys also test coordination and balance, so they’re great for promoting optimal physical development.
- Create a Family Fitness Rewards Program
If physical activity seems like a chore, your kids won’t want to engage in it. On the other hand, turning exercise into a game can make all the difference in how it’s viewed. When movement becomes fun, your kids will look forward to living more active lifestyles.
Creating a family fitness rewards program is a great way to capitalize on your kids’ competitive spirit. Simply think of a reward your family is willing to work toward. Some good examples include a trip to the local zoo or a family vacation. Once you’ve settled on a reward, set specific fitness goals you’ll need to achieve together to claim your prize.
- Limit Screen Time
It’s unrealistic to expect your kids to stay entirely away from screens during couch potato season. However, you can limit screen time to make sure your children are still getting plenty of physical activity each day.
Certain apps can help you keep track of your children’s screen time on various devices. Use one of these apps to take the guesswork out of screen time monitoring. Some apps will even shut specific devices off once preset time limits are reached. The nice thing about screen time monitoring apps is that your kids can’t argue with them. Once the allotted screen time is used up, that’s the end of the story.
- Be a Role Model
It’s not fair or realistic to expect your children to stay physically active if you are a couch potato yourself. Children tend to adopt many of the same values and habits their parents have. This can be a great tendency to capitalize on — provided you are a good role model in terms of physical activity.
If exercising seems like a chore to you, it will most likely show on your face. Consequently, your children will probably pick up on your resentful feelings toward physical activity. Prioritize your fitness, and your children are more likely to do the same. Make sure that when your kids watch you being physically active, they get the impression you’re doing something you enjoy.
- Enroll Your Children in Sports
Sports provide a fun and challenging way for kids to strengthen their bodies and test their endurance. There are many fall and winter sports to choose from, including football, cross country, basketball, hockey, swimming, and indoor soccer. Give your children some input into the types of sports they want to participate in.
It isn’t unusual for kids to discover they don’t like a particular sport after they’ve actually played it. A child who discovers basketball really isn’t their jam may find an individual sport like swimming more to their liking. Be patient with your kids and allow them to try a variety of sports until they find something they enjoy.
When the weather turns chilly, impromptu games of kickball and hours-long bike rides often fall by the wayside. But that doesn’t mean your kids need to succumb to inactivity. Follow these eight tips to encourage your children to stay active this couch potato season.