Tips for Staying Healthy and Active During the Winter Months
Parents and children can find it challenging to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits during the holiday season. With childhood obesity rates at an all-time high, making sure kids eat healthy and get plenty of exercise has perhaps never been more important. Our weight management experts have provided a few simple tips parents can use for making sure their families enjoy the holidays while still maintaining a focus on their health and wellness.
- Be active every day. Because the kids are out of school, the family has an opportunity to be active together – whether it’s going for bike rides if the weather permits or having a snowball fight in the front yard. Perhaps create a new holiday tradition – go to Zoo Lights, or walk the neighborhood looking at holiday decorations. See additional tips for staying active below.
- Limit the calories from drinks. Try to ensure that your children only drink holiday favorites such as egg nog and hot cocoa in moderation. Calories from these treats add up quickly!
- Give your children a light snack such as string cheese, yogurt or an apple before going to a holiday party. They’re more likely to overeat at a party if they arrive hungry.
- Avoid leaving out plates of cookies or candies in your house – they will only promote excess eating and grazing out of boredom. Also, when you bake sweets, make only enough to give as gifts or as a treat that will be around for a day or two.
- Remember that overeating one day will not make or break your family’s plan. Return to your usual eating plan the next day without guilt.
“Moderation is the key. Make a plan – know which holiday foods you particularly love and which ones you can do without,” said Renee Porter, obesity clinical nurse coordinator at Children's Hospital Colorado.
Watch our video about preventing childhood obesity.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, it’s important to stay active.
“Winter actually offers a whole variety of options for being and staying active,” says Porter. “It sometimes just requires a little bit of creativity. We tell people not to be discouraged by the cold, but to put on their coats, hats and gloves and get outside and get moving. Of course, if the weather is just too bad, it’s a great excuse to spend time with family and friends indoors playing an active game – be it basketball at the local recreation center or a spirited round of Wii™ bowling in the living room.”
Renee Porter and Michael Witten, exercise specialist for Children's Hospital Colorado’s weight management program, offer parents creative ideas below around how to keep their families moving during the cold winter months.
Don’t let the cold weather stop you. Bundle up, go outdoors and have fun doing some of the following activities:
- Build a snowman
- Have a snowball fight
- Go sledding, snowshoeing or ice skating
- Walk around the neighborhood with your family looking at holiday lights
- Build an igloo with snowballs
- Organize a scavenger hunt with friends/family
- Organize a game with friends/family (basketball, football, baseball)
- If you live near the mountains, try skiing or snowboarding
Or try one of these indoor activities:
- Have a family dance contest
- Try out a new class at your local recreation center
- Go swimming at an indoor pool
- Go for a walk at the mall (be sure to wear your pedometer)
- Play games like Twister™, Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light
- Set up an indoor obstacle course for you, your family and friends
- Buy or make some fitness dice. Roll the dice and then perform the exercise however many times the numbered die tells you to!
Get additional tips on helping your family stay active and healthy year-round.