by Dr. Jane Wilkov, M.D
COLD, RAINY OR snowy winter days are often a great excuse for inactivity. It’s hard to get motivated to keep moving when the couch, a warm blanket and a cup of coffee or hot chocolate are so inviting. There are good reasons, however, to get creative and keep you and your family moving inside or outdoors
Some benefits of family play:
- Strengthen muscles and bones
- Brighten mood, increase focus
- Increase energy level and endurance
- Boost the immune system
- Improve sleep
- Family bonding
Inside Activity Suggestions
- Build an obstacle course using pillows, chairs, blankets or any safe household item that will challenge the family to keep moving.
- Dance. Turn up the music, let loose and have fun. Remember no one is watching!
- Try some old standbys such as jump rope, hula hoops, musical chairs, twister and indoor hopscotch.
- Try yoga or find some workout videos on YouTube to do together
- Plan an indoor scavenger or treasure hunt.
Although it is often thought there is a connection between being cold and catching colds, it is more likely that when the weather permits, going outside dressed properly will have no bearing on getting sick. Cold air will dilate blood vessels and often cause your nose to run, but that is not a cold. In fact, germs disperse in an outdoor environment and playing outside will expose us to fewer germs. Staying inside in close contact with other people actually helps germs spread. Airplanes, malls and classrooms are known as germ breeding grounds. It is common for kids to get sick when they go back to school and are in close contact with each other in a confined space. Getting outdoors in all but extreme weather conditions is healthy, fun and has many benefits.
Outside Activity Suggestions:
- Dress in layers. It is not fun to be outside if you are cold.
- Wear warm socks and cover hands and head to conserve body heat.
- Stay hydrated.
- Walk in your neighborhood. Explore the winter landscape. Take pictures and compare to the other seasons.
- Build an outdoor obstacle course.
- Clean up your yard as a family.
Whatever you choose to do, stay active, have fun and remember spring will be here before you know it