Kids Health Matters: Keeping kids active

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Experts come to the rescue with tips on keeping your children active when it's cold and gray outdoors.

Experts come to the rescue with tips on keeping your children active when it's cold and gray outdoors.

On snow days, it's easy for most kids to get enough exercise.

Sometimes, the hard part is getting them back inside.

But what about the rest of winter?

Rachel DeHaven of Children's Hospital says it's a yearly challenge for families in the Healthy Weight program.

"They're doing great over summer, progressing really well," said DeHaven.

So, she says - Get Creative!

"Dance parties, freeze dance is really popular. Twister - family twister," added DeHaven.

Got a few glow sticks? Have a party.

DeHaven says, "They just turn the lights off, and for 15 minutes, just dance."

For kids who love animals, try a movement jar - put the names of animals and how they move into a jar.

Draw one, then act it out.

There are also a host of exercise apps - like NFL Play 60, Sworkit for Kids, or Dungeon Runner Fitness Quest - many of them free!

"We've got a couple of kids who like to make up their own exercises, take pictures of them, make books," said DeHaven.

Why not have your kids follow along while you're working out at home?

Sixty minutes is the exercise goal, but break it up, if you have to.

Just remember to do it vigorously enough to break a sweat.

DeHaven says it helps to keep the same routine as in warmer months - go outside and play about the same time, or Wii dance at the same time your child would normally do soccer practice.

Check your local rec center or YMCA - many are offering discounts now, or have special winter programs for kids.

Winter diets can also be a challenge - fresh fruits and vegetables can cost more, but have less taste.

Frozen or canned are good options - if you get the low-sodium version, or rinse the salt away.

Dietitian Elizabeth Coover gives thumbs-up to stews and soups.

She says, "Soups can be a great quick way to get all types of food groups at your meal, and even sneak in a couple extra vegetables, too."

And for a treat, she likes a smarter version of hot chocolate.

"Packaged versions that have a little extra calcium and vitamin D, but may be lower in sugar, so you can enjoy that with low-fat milk," said Coover.

She adds, "really watching portions is important."

For more meal and snack ideas - including some kids can help make - see our link to the hospital's Nutrition in the Kitchen cookbook.

Related Topics:
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