Middle school students on the playground

The winter months can get long, especially here in Minnesota. It’s cold outside and there is less daylight, so it can be hard to be motivated. Most of us would prefer to rest through the winter months, but physical activity is important for everyone all year round, especially young children.

At Mounds Park Academy, we believe in the importance of physical activity, and we know that making it a part of a child’s life early on can help them develop good habits as they get older. According to the World Health Organization, children should get at least one hour of physical activity every single day. Physical activity is vital to a child’s success emotionally, physically, and mentally. It helps them build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, and prevents chronic diseases. Physical activity is beneficial for the development of cognitive skills, which can help kids stay more focused in the classroom. It also helps kids sleep better and significantly reduces stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Setting A Goal
A great way to stay active is to set a goal at the start of the year. Setting a New Year’s resolution as a family can be a motivating way to think about what everyone wants to accomplish in the year ahead. Resolutions should be specific and measureable. When it comes to physical activity, you might set a goal to move as a family a few days a week. You could also encourage your child to try a new activity each month. As you talk about this as a family, let your child set the goal so that the motivation comes from within.

Staying Active At Home
It’s easy to be active in the summer months when there are many opportunities to be outside, but there are still ways to stay active in the winter from the comfort of your home. And, it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Turn on some of your favorite music and have a dance party to get your child’s heart rate going. You could also use furniture and other items around the house to set up an obstacle course or play games that require movement like Twister or Simon Says. Even some house cleaning can get kids up and moving, and the best part is that accomplishes two goals at once!

When you’re at home, it’s especially important to limit screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours or less a day of screen time. Kids are more likely to be active when they have fewer opportunities to sit with an electronic device or watch TV.

Outdoor Winter Activities
At MPA, we encourage students to be active outdoors throughout the year. We know that children need time to play and socialize, so our students have recess everyday— even in the winter. Although it’s colder outside, all it takes is a few extra layers. The benefits are seen in the classroom as well as on the rosy faces of our students.

As you think about activities for your child in the winter, you might consider things that they’ve never tried before like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Another great way to be active outside is to build a snowman or snow fort. Ice skating and sledding are always fun activities to do, but even a simple walk outside is a good way to get your child’s heart pumping.

Middle school boy in gym

In The Community
There are also many indoor activities to do in the community during the winter months. You could try bowling or visiting an indoor playground. Many community centers and schools, including MPA, offer open gym times to their communities. It’s also a great time to sign up for swimming lessons or other organized activities like yoga, basketball, gymnastics, dance, or martial arts. These kinds of activities give kids an opportunity to be active while getting to know others in the community.

We believe in educating the whole child, so physical activity is an important part of our curriculum at MPA. No matter what time of year it is, you should always encourage your child to move. It can be helpful to create a family routine around physical activity, but most importantly, keep it fun and let your child lead the way and pursue the things that bring the most joy.

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