Keep Moving in the Winter

Shorter days and colder months can make exercising a challenge in the winter months, but it's important to keep moving all year. Exercising in the cold weather months can keep your body healthy, bring your family together, and most importantly, be fun! Here are ways to keep your body moving even if the temperature isn;t.

Dance
Dance connects the brain and body as well as enables children to express thoughts and feelings they may not be able to verbalize. And it gets them moving! Put on different types of music and have fun dancing. See how creatively you can move your body to the beat. Take turns creating a series of movements to the music and teach each other your dance.

From One Side to the Other

Clear an open space in your home. Have each family member and friend stand on one side of the room. One person will be the caller and announce how everyone will move to the other side of the room (skip, hop, jump, slither, walk backwards, walk and clap, march, etc.). The caller will then call out another type of movement and everyone will move that way back to the other side of the room. Take turns as the caller.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course

Gather jump ropes, hula hoops, indoor sports balls, and anything else to add to your course. Include items in your home like stairs, chairs, or stools and create an indoor obstacle course. Have fun timing each other with a stop watch or kitchen clock. To incorporate more math, create a chart with people's names and times. See if the times improve with each run through.

Body Letters and Numbers

Make the alphabet with your body. First, use your fine motor skills and make the letters with your fingers. Then, use your gross motor skills and make the letters with your whole body. Using two people to create the letters, have fun making the letters with a family member or friend as a partner. Exercise your brain as well as your body by saying a word that starts with each letter you create.

Directions
Increase spatial awareness while exercising! Choose a way to move (gallop, slide, crawl, etc.). Call out directions as your family and friends move from place to place. You can use direction words such as right, left, forward, backward, over, under, sideways, etc.

Outside Options
Even though it may be cold and snowy, you can still go outside. Just remember to dress appropriately and not stay out too long. Don't forget to warm up too since your muscles get tighter when it's cold.
  • Take a walk. If there's snow on the ground, make footprints as you walk and count them. Make the footprints in groups of two and count by twos.
  • Try ice skating. Skaing rinks pop up all over during the winter months.
  • Shovel snow. This is great exercise and helpful, too!
  • Go sledding. Even on a small hill, walking up the hill and sledding down uses many muscles.
Use Your Community
  • Check out your local community center or YMCA. Many places have indoor tracks for walking or pools with open swim times.
  • The zoo is another fun place even in the winter. Taking a walk at the zoo is great exercise while learning about animals.
  • The local shopping mall is another good place to go for a walk. Get there before the stores open and walk a few laps around the mall. Count the number of stores, read the store names, or find letters you know as you walk.
Have fun moving all winter while staying healthy and happy at the same time!

Debbie Frank
Adjunct Professor Teacher Education