*(Cody, Wyo.)* - Winter weather doesn't mean your child needs to go into hibernation. There are still plenty of opportunities for kids to get off the couch and be active. And as a parent, it's important for you to promote activities that get your child moving even when the weather is bad. "All children benefit from physical activity year-round," says Michelle May, MD, past chairperson of the American Academy of Family Physicians Americans In-Motion Advisory Panel. "The weather should not be a factor. Physical activity helps children stay healthy and focus better on things like school." *A troubling trend* - Children today are less active and more overweight than any previous generation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. And being inactive or obese can increase a child's chances of developing diabetes and other serious health problems later in life. The winter months can be an especially difficult time to keep kids active. When the weather is bad, children are more likely to be inactive and spend too much time on a computer, watching television or playing video games, according to Dr. May. "Kids today live in a relatively sedentary environment," she says. "They can do just about anything with the click of a button. As a parent, you need to limit screen time to about 2 hours a day and create activities that get your kids moving." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. But it doesn't have to be all at once. Physical activity can be broken into intervals of at least 10 to 20 minutes at a time. *Cold weather exercise tips *- Kids may not be able to go for a bike ride or swim in the lake during the winter months. But there are several other outdoor activities that can help your family burn off energy and get some exercise. Skiing, ice skating, building a snow fort, snowshoeing and sledding are all healthy winter activities that you can enjoy with your child when there's snow on the ground. It doesn't have to only be about exercising, Dr. May says. "You need to really make the activities about fun. Don't make it a chore." Even if you can't get outdoors, you can still be active. The American Council on Exercise and Dr. May offer these tips for indoor activity: - Take kids to an indoor gym or health club. Play sports such as basketball, volleyball or floor hockey. - Go to the mall for a walk. See who can reach a certain store in the shortest amount of time. - If you're stuck in the house, play some games that involve activity. Set up obstacle courses where your child can run and jump over pillows or crawl under tables. Play hide-and-seek or tag. - If you choose to let your child play video games, encourage interactive games that require movement. - When watching television, make commercial time activity time. Have kids put away laundry or perform other indoor tasks that require movement during programming breaks. *Lead by example* - Perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep your kids active is to set a good example by maintaining your own active lifestyle. "Parents need to be good role models for kids," Dr. May says. "When kids see their parents going to the gym and being active, they are more likely to want to do so themselves." Click here
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*Thank you for the tips West Park Hospital!*
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