Tips to Stay Active in Winter

Andrew Tran
M.D.
Columbus Parent

Q: How can I keep my kids active and heart healthy during the winter months?

A: Inside activities vary according to age, but it’s easy to get that heart rate up! Dance parties, exercise videos and games that require movement, such as hide-and-seek, Simon says, hula-hooping, jump roping, indoor hopscotch or an indoor obstacle course are all great ideas to keep kids moving.

Don’t forget that certain chores can also be heart healthy, and challenging kids to do those jobs quickly is a good way to make it a game and boost heart rates.

Outdoor activities cover a wide range: walking, running, playing in the snow (making snowmen, snow angels or forts; throwing snowballs; and sledding), or visiting a park or playground are all great options, as long as they are done safely. When you find activities that your kids love, they’ll want to participate.

Make sure to dress your child in lots of layers for outdoors: As internal and external temperatures shift, they can adjust what they’re wearing. Look for clothing that is thinner but still efficient at keeping bodies warm while wicking away moisture. Hats, gloves and boots are musts when there’s snow and slush. When it’s very cold, especially when temperatures drop into the 20s (or lower with windchill), limit outdoor time. Apply sunscreen, even in winter: Bright snow can intensify the sun’s glare.

Regular physical activity isn’t just good for the heart; it can prevent conditions such as cancer and Type 2 diabetes, and it helps promote general lifelong health and well-being. It can be challenging to make sure kids get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise each day, but great habits can be developed with good planning.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.

Andrew Tran, M.D., is a pediatric cardiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Get top reads, event recommendations, guides, parenting trends and more ideas for family fun. Subscribe to Columbus Parent’s weekly newsletter, The Bulletin.

Check Your Pulse

February is American Heart Month, and so it is a great time to teach your kids how to measure their heart rates.

  • Time it. Use a stopwatch. Your phone should have a stopwatch feature if you don’t have a real one around.
  • Count and multiply. Have your child count the beats for six seconds and then multiply by 10.
  • Compare. Show children how their heart rates vary with different activities, as well as how their heart rate may differ from yours, a sibling’s, etc.
Andrew Tran, M.D.
Photo courtesy Nationwide Children's Hospital