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Ask an Expert: Keeping kids moving in the bitter chill.

Q. My middle schooler was really into riding his bike to school, but now the snow is flying and we’re back to driving. After school, he gets immersed in video games after completing his homework. What can we do to keep him moving every day? We could probably pay for one class/club but that’s it. Thanks for any ideas.

A. It’s terrific that he has an activity that’s both functional (he gets to school) and that he enjoys…and one will work many months out of the year. I’d still suggest having him ride his bike whenever the weather permits. It’s a great way to get cardiovascular movement without that being the focus – getting to school would be the goal. That’s also one of the reasons I love exercises or movements that feel like play. (Which also works really well for adult exercisers, by the way).

Each season offers unique opportunities to learn new things, try new sports or enjoy new activities. Winter requires more planning because doing activities outside necessitate more equipment or protection from the elements. Ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, inner tubing, and even playing in the snow are all great exercises but do require extra equipment. Think in terms of what you’d like to see, and what he’d like to do as his Winter Plan.

It’s recommended to get exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week, and with a bit of variety you can help your middle schooler supplement his daily movement without making it a “formal” thing. Think of it as a variety of different activities, all designed to keep him moving and having fun.

Tips to get your child moving

I would suggest:

  • Doing the one class/club after school each week as a part of the plan if it works in your budget.
  • Picking a few outdoor activities each week.
  • Trying new indoor classes at local health clubs or recreation centers.
  • Trying some clubs that offer winter fitness camps for kids that last six- to nine weeks and are very affordable.

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