I am always glad when parents are concerned about exercise and their children.
Statistics show that almost a third of children and adults are obese. In addition to childhood health risks, studies have found that overweight kids are at greater risk of becoming obese adults, with all the health problems associated with obesity lasting throughout their lives.
These long winter months make it tough to get outside and cabin fever may be settling in. Your children may be looking for ways to get outside and burn off some energy, and the cold weather might also be an excuse for kids to increase time spent watching TV, playing video games or using electronics.
It is welcoming to sit in the warmth and avoid exercise during cold weather, but I recommend 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily for most children (and adults!)
How cold is too cold?
Keep an eye on the wind chill – not just the actual temperature. Here is a guide:
- If the wind chill is above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) children can safely play outside –if dressed warmly enough.
- If the wind chill is below 32, I advise caution.
- If the wind chill is above 20, limit the amount of time your child is outside and check regularly that their hands, checks, nose and feet are warm.
- If wind chills are below 20, I would recommend very cautious, limited exposure. Younger, smaller children lose body heat much more quickly than older kids and adults. Younger children also have less ability to regulate body temperature.
Get up off the couch!
If the weather is too cold – consider inside activities like dancing or jump rope to get kids moving. You can make it a family challenge!
When participating in outdoor sports or activities – please keep these precautions in mind:
- Wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15. The sun is very reflective on snow and ice and you are able to get sunburned in the winter.
- Use safety gear – helmets, knee pads or gloves recommended for the sport.
- Dress in breathable layers of clothes. You want to trap air between the layers to keep in the warmth. Be sure to wear gloves, socks, hat and boots to protect the parts of the body most vulnerable to frostbite.