Staying Active in Winter: Tips and Tricks for Kids

Child running in the snow.

Staying active in the winter months can be a daunting task. Most people would rather stay inside, veg out on the couch, and call it a day. But these kinds of activities don’t support your physical or mental health. As a partner of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, we know there are numerous indoor activities that can be a good substitute for more typical outdoor sports during the winter months.

SPARK Lesson Plans

If your students are unwilling to go outside, there are several different games/activities that can be played indoors with little equipment. We’ve put together a collection of lesson plans that are perfect for indoor winter activities. Here are a few worth your attention:

Rock-Paper-Scissors Tag

In this game, kids partner up, play rock-paper-scissors at the midline, then whoever wins is “IT.” This person chases other players towards the endline. A point goes to the chaser if they tag a runner; a point goes to the runner if they make it safely to the endline. You’ll need cones, and flag belts are suggested.

Paper Plate Aerobics

In this game, kids must keep a paper plate underneath each foot while doing some sort of movement. Examples include lunges, push-ups and crunches. You could also have students use a softball and play catch with a couple others, without lifting feet off the plates.

Toy’s Alive!

In this game, everyone spreads out and pretends they are a toy (like in Toy Story). When they hear “Andy’s coming!” they must freeze in position. Students count down from three to one and wait to hear “All Clear!” to move again. In order to move, they must use a bean bag as a “battery,” balanced on their head or shoulder. If the bean bag falls, the student must freeze until another toy-student helps them out. You’ll need cones and bean bags for this activity.

YMCA’s, Open Gyms and Community Centers

Encourage students to take fitness into their own hands, outside of school. During the winter season, there’s a lot of time over break that should be used to constructively balance holiday indulgence.

YMCA’s offer a multitude of options for indoor activities that vary depending on the location. A few different things that may be available at your local YMCA:

Gymnastics, swim classes, youth fitness classes (yoga, dance, Zumba)

Sports; basketball, flag football, volleyball, martial arts, running

Besides YMCA’s, open gyms, usually reserved for basketball, are “open” for anyone to use. They can also have space for gymnastics or volleyball nets. This is a great option to suggest to students with specific activity preferences.

Local community centers offer a variety of different activity options that are similar to what a local YMCA might provide. A local community center might offer martial arts, dance classes and various sports teams to sign up for. But staying active doesn’t always mean doing a sport or exercise class. Another “activity” might be something like taking a cooking class as a family at a community center.

Bowling/Indoor Rollerblading/Indoor Trampoline

The best way to get a student to exercise? Make it seem like something that’s more “fun” than “work.” A few ideas to suggest for staying active in winter:

Bowling

Bowling gets you up and moving, plus it’s fun. You don’t have to be great at bowling, and there are bumpers on the lanes for kids. It’s also relatively inexpensive!

Indoor Rollerblading

Students may claim it’s too cold to go outside to ice skate, so encourage them to opt instead for indoor rollerblading or rollerskating. There are many health benefits associated with rollerblading: it’s easier on the joints, improves your overall mood, and can also help with endurance and agility.

Indoor Trampoline

Indoor trampoline parks are getting more and more popular. It’s an indoor park composed of trampolines and a pit of foam cubes to jump into. Trampolining is a great way to get kids active! Did you know that a ten minute bounce is the same as a half hour run?

Outdoor Activities

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you HAVE to be stuck inside! There are many activities to do outside that kids, and parents, can enjoy. Some suggestions:

Build a snowman or snow fort

Go skiing, sledding or snowboarding

Bundle up and go for a walk

Indoor Activities

We aren’t out of ideas for staying active in the winter yet! Here are some indoor activities to suggest to students that will probably please their parents.

Cleaning the House

It doesn’t have to be a chore! You can do a couple things to make this fun:

Make it a game: whoever cleans their bedroom the fastest (an adult has to approve of thoroughness) gets a simple reward (like their choice for dinner).

Turn the cleaning into a dance party and blast some tunes.

Cooking/Baking

Cooking and baking can really get you moving in the kitchen. You can turn it into family time as well and cook/bake together. Learning to cook and manage your nutrition is not only a valuable skill, it’s also something fun to do when it’s freezing outside.

Active Video Games

Many gaming consoles have active video games kids can play, providing them with plenty of options. You might also suggest dancing games like Zumba and Just Dance.

Staying active during the winter is difficult for many, and being cooped up isn’t fun either. But staying active in winter helps physical health as well as mental health. You will have more energy and be less lethargic if you use some of these tips!

SPARK is a research-based program that provides award-winning, evidence-based programs for Physical Education (K-12), Classroom Physical Activity & Recess, After School, Early Childhood, Nutrition and Health. Since 1989, SPARK has provided curriculum, training, and consultation to over 100,000 teachers and youth leaders worldwide.

For more healthy ideas, take a look at these other posts from Together Counts!

5 Ideas for Exploring Nature with Kids this Winter

3 Ways to Get Your Family Cooking for Life in 2017

Staying Active during the Winter

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