Winter Fitness Challenges to Keep Kids, Teens and Athletes Active

Cold weather, social distancing from friends, and changes to sports mean kids, teens and athletes might not feel motivated to stay active this winter. But it’s important for all kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day for their heart health – and it’s important for athletes to stay active in order to prevent injury.

So how about a fitness challenge? Connecticut Children’s pediatric orthopedic surgeon Allison Crepeau, MD, joins the blog with ideas.

 

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1. Pick a fitness challenge.

  • Take a hike. Yes, it’s cold. But outdoor winter walks can be so much fun! Set a goal for the number of days per week that you’ll go for a walk, and for how long. (Need help coaxing your child outdoors? Here are tips.)
  • Do yoga. There are lots of free guided yoga sessions for families and kids to do together – including these seven yoga videos from Connecticut Children’s.
  • Dance party! How about a 15-minute dance party every day for a week? Take turns picking the music. For a variation, try “Freeze Dance”: Assign someone to be in charge of hitting “play” and “pause.” When the music stops, everyone dancing freezes.
  • Learn the choreography to a music video. Search YouTube for free tutorials for many music videos, or just give it your best shot. Have older kids or teens? This challenge is perfect for Tik Tok. (Here are tips for online safety.)
  • Create a fitness challenge calendar. Make a weekly or monthly calendar with your child, and set a daily goal for simple exercises like jumping jacks, high knees, sit-ups/crunches, pushups, planks and squats. You can even set up a circuit at home with cards for each activity.
  • Use apps and gaming systems. GoNoodle is an app and website with free resources to get kids moving, including a collaboration with NFLPlay60. Nintendo’s Wii is great for movement games like Just Dance or any number of sports games.
  • Make up your own challenge! Whether you’re creating timed fitness stations in your house, hosting a three-point hoop contest over video chat, or perfecting your plank as a family, there are endless ways to add short, regular bursts of activity into winter.
  • Want more ideas? Check out these 23 indoor activities for heart-healthy kids.

2. Set some wellness challenge rules, including a timeframe.

  • Be specific about how long your challenge will last, and what will count as success. The more specific, the better.
  • For example: Challenge each family member to do 10 minutes of yoga five days a week for a week. Or plan on 5 push-ups each Monday, 15 squats each Tuesday, and 20 jumping jacks on Wednesday.
  • It helps to record these goals somewhere visible, like on the household calendar or with a sticky note on your child’s mirror.

> Related: Want more tips to get your family through winter? Check out our Winter Kit!

3. Round up other fitness challengers.

Have your child enlist friends or teammates to participate in the challenge too, or make it a family affair.

4. Record daily progress.

For younger kids, mark off each day once they’ve completed the challenge. For teens and athletes, you might incorporate technology, like a fitness tracker app like MYZONE, MyFitnessPal, or something else.

5. Share fitness achievements.

Whether it’s posting on social media, marking personal bests on the fridge, or texting a triumphant selfie to a friend, create a ritual to celebrate when each day’s challenge has been met. Great job!

 

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