Staying Active in Wintertime

Father and daughter in snow

Winter months can be a challenge for daily physical activity because the need does not change in cold weather. Adults can ensure children (and they) are moving and developing their muscles by providing large muscle play opportunities. Action rhymes are a great way to get everyone moving. What are action rhymes? These are songs or poems set to motion that tell a story. Some classic action rhymes include “Row Your Boat,” “Ring Around the Rosy,” and “Head and Shoulder, Knees and Toes.”

When winter weather will allow, walking in the snow is a workout in itself; make it more interesting by searching for animal tracks. Pretending to be those animals when there is snow on the ground is a fun new game. Old-time favorite activities like creating a snow angel, dancing the “Hokey Pokey,” or playing the game “Duck, Duck Goose” are also a workout in the snow. Throwing snowballs at a target (a red circle in the snow made using food coloring) will satisfy the throwing urge and no one gets hurt. Following the leader or marching in a circle lifting those legs as high as they can go and swinging arms gets many muscles working.

Source: Posted on December 24, 2012, by Shannon Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension.

Keep Movin’ in the New Year

The cold weather, along with snow and ice, can make it hard to move outside. Don’t let the cold winter months discourage you into cutting back on your exercise routine. If you don’t currently have an exercise routine, there is no time like the New Year to get started.

  • Consider these indoor activities:
  • Walk at your local maPortrait of smiling people doing power fitness exercisell or your building’s hallways during lunch or coffee breaks.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Follow an exercise DVD rather than watching a movie.
  • Do chair exercises while watching the television

Whatever activity you choose, you’ll burn extra calories instead of storing them. The key to an active family is finding fun things to do in every season. Aim for a goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity daily for adults and 60 minutes for kids—no matter the weather!

Information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Family Exercise Ideas for Every Season,

Winter Weather Emergencies–What Do You Do?

ThinkstockPhotos-78811116Iowa winters bring with them cold, snow, and the occasional loss of power. Try these food safety tips for when your power goes out:

Make sure you have a thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer. When the power goes out, check your thermometers for safe temperatures: refrigerator below 40°F, and 0°F or lower for freezer.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. When kept closed, a refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours; a full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours; a half-full freezer will hold its temperature for 24 hours.

Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags now. These can be used in the refrigerator and freezer to help food stay cold and be a source of fresh water for you to use.

When in doubt, throw it out. Any perishable food that has been above 40°F for two hours or more should be thrown out. Frozen food with ice crystals may be safely refrozen.

Source: Food Poisoning Bulletin

Beat the Winter Blues

As the short days and long nights of winter roll into February, we begin to feel like we are stuck in a rut. A little sunshine and fresh air bowlingwould do us good, but the frigid weather may seem like a good excuse to avoid workouts or outdoor play. Evidence shows that people are less physically active during winter months and tend to eat more “comfort” foods, increasing their potential to gain weight.

Being active can help with more than just weight control. Those who can maintain or increase their level of physical activity may feel happier and more energetic as well as feel better about themselves physically, and be better able to control their weight. Beat the blues by planning an activity for family or friends. Here are a few examples:

  • Bundle up children for cold weather and let them play outside for short periods of time. Sledding or making snow angels, snowmen, or snow forts are great activities to enjoy.
  • Allow children to play actively indoors if the weather is bitterly cold. Parents and children can dance or practice aerobics together. Parents may designate a space in the house where it is fine to wrestle and roughhouse.
  • Share a competitive round with exergames on the Wii or Kinect as a family or set up a family “Olympics” with a variety of sports activities.
  • Provide lots of challenge and vigorous exercise through ice skating. Many ice rinks are open to the public.
  • Go bowling. It offers friendly, fun-filled competition.

A little imagination and a lot of flexibility are all that’s needed to pass the time until spring.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland (or Winter Walking Tips)

Walking in winterWalking is a great way to meet the 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity. But going for a walk in cold and snowy weather brings special challenges. Ensure a safe outdoor walk with these tips:

  • Be aware of the wind chill factor before starting your walk. When it’s windy, think about whether you want to walk into the wind when you are returning and warmed up from exercise or when you begin and are warm from your home.
  • Select a route with no snow or ice when possible.
  • Dress warmly in several layers of loosefitting, tightly woven clothing. Wear a waterproof coat, hat, gloves, a scarf, or knit mask to cover your face, and waterproof boots. Be careful you aren’t so bundled up that you can’t hear or see what is going on around you!
  • Use sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher before going outdoors and reapply as needed. Protecting your skin from the sun is important in the winter even if the air and wind are brutally cold.
  • Share your planned route with family or friends in case of an emergency and carry a cell phone, if you have one.
  • Take a break when you begin to feel fatigue. Watch for signs of cold weather health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Walk with a friend! It will help keep you motivated.

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