Ways to Stay Active This Winter

Dr. Derek Clevidence, UnityPoint Health – Meriter Family Medicine provider, gives tips to stay healthy and happy this time of year.

With the sun setting earlier and dreary weather ahead during the winter months, your family may start feeling the effects of cabin fever pretty quickly. Here are some pointers on how your crew can get some extra fresh air, time outside and sunshine during the winter months.

  1. Use the snowy conditions to your advantage. Have the kiddos help shovel after a fresh snowfall, build a snowman or snow fort, or see who can make the best snow angel. This makes a great snow day activity and can be done mid-day for maximum sunshine.
  2. Go for a walk through your neighborhood or take a jaunt to a local park. This gets kids outside and moving — especially if they’ve been cooped up!
  3. Try ice skating. It might be new for your family, and you’ll be amazed at how fast kids can learn and go. Seeing a frozen lake or pond will also give kids a different perspective from viewing the same spot in the summer.
  4. How about ice fishing? It can be a fun new skill for kids to learn while enjoying the outdoors and the winter sun. It helps to go with an experienced angler, and make sure the ice conditions are safe.
  5. Study snowflakes! If we’re set to get a light dusting, get the kids outside to catch snowflakes and study how each one is different. You can talk about how snowflakes are formed, and how they are all similar, but unique. A magnifying glass can reveal details.
  6. Send kids outside with a camera — possibly a disposable one – and you can challenge them to take photos of different winter items, like snowflakes or plow trucks! Or just set them free and see what they find interesting outdoors in your yard, a local park or on a walk through the neighborhood. A print or collage would be a fun follow up!
  7. Go out and do a classic winter activity — sledding. Get the crew bundled up and find the biggest hill in your area to woosh down on a sled. It’s a great way to get out when it just won’t stop snowing!

When going outside and exploring, it’s important to dress in layers to stay warm. Make sure to wear thick socks, hats and gloves, and limit exposure to cold weather to about 30 minutes at a time. If the wind chill is in the negative temperatures, it might be best to skip outside time and try for a warmer day.

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