According to the World Health Organization, children between the ages of 5 and 17 should engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. For adults, Mayo Clinic suggests a general goal of 30 minutes of activity per day; however, studies show that the majority of each group fails to meet its standard, and those with special mental or physical needs were reportedly twice as inactive as the rest of the population. Shorter days and dropping temperatures can reduce our options in how to exercise and play, so it’s important to come up with alternate ways to keep your mind and body active during the winter season.
What Are Some Benefits of Staying Active?
Regardless of age or physical ability, exercising has positive effects. These include helping your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, enhancing mood and overall energy levels, sleeping more soundly, and creating or strengthening relationships with family and friends. These benefits begin to accumulate with any amount of activity, and it’s important to note that engaging in some is better than doing none at all. Those who practice the appropriate amount of physical activity have also shown behavioral improvements, increases in attention span, reduced risk of secondary health complications, and lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. In determining a routine, there are plenty of unique substitutes to traditional aerobics and strength training that can be done independently, in a group setting, indoors or outdoors.
- Check out local parks - these areas provide lots of space for exerting energy. Whether playing tag, walking a pet, or enjoying the playground, each activity is a fun way to get moving and engage with one’s surroundings. Be sure to take note of the weather and prepare adequately. If it’s cold, make sure everyone is wearing enough layers to keep warm and protected against the elements like wind, snow, or ice.
- Build a masterpiece - if there is snow on the ground, use it as means to create a fort, snowman, or other winter work of art. Pushing, sculpting, moving, or playing in the snow are all ways to get the body moving. Participate or spectate from the comfort of your own front yard or backyard, all without needing to leave home or drive in potentially hazardous conditions.
- Try a new sport - snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding are popular pastimes throughout the winter season. Great for groups, these sports can aid in meeting new people who share the same interests. Not only that, but taking advantage of exercising outdoors can boost your immunity during cold and flu season, increase vitamin D intake, and burn extra calories.
- Bring technology into play - consoles like the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect combine exercise and online entertainment into one. There are options for dancing, sports simulations like tennis or bowling, and interactive fitness classes. These can be played right in your own living room, and most are inclusive for all ages. Community centers, gyms, and schools often have these available if you do not have your own.
- Get creative - turn household or store-bought items into something beautiful! Arts and crafts can support children and adults in exploring their imaginations and conveying their thoughts in unique ways. In addition, they can improve motor skills, increase mental stimulation, and provide an outlet for self-expression. Some inexpensive examples include making jewelry out of macaroni noodles or beads, painting, taking pictures, or building with Lego blocks or popsicle sticks.
- Play games - there are options outside of traditional board games that don’t require sitting still. Twister, hide and go seek, or cup stacking engage different parts of the body and can improve hand-eye coordination, ambidexterity, and flexibility. For a more in-depth activity, set up an indoor scavenger hunt. Exploring for different objects or clues can promote mental stimulation, an increase in physical movement, and the idea of teamwork and collaboration.
As the days get shorter and air gets colder, there are still plenty of ways to maintain an active lifestyle. Combining physical, mental, and social activities, playtime can be both purposeful and fun. Cape Cod Challenger Club understands the importance of this and provides year-round opportunities for both children and adults. These include athletic, recreational, and social programs in addition to educational sessions. Registration is currently open for our Winter Program, and our Parent-Child POP Sessions take place every Saturday in January. To learn more about upcoming opportunities, visit our Facebook page, check out our Calendar of Events or call us at (508) 420-6950.