Keeping Children Healthy, Safe and Fit During Winter

Tips for keeping kids healthy outside during cold and flu season.

While you’re probably well aware of tips and tricks for staying healthy and protecting yourself from germs and viruses, kids may need some help. Getting plenty of exercise outside on the playground and in local parks is also important for kids – even during the snowy winter months. This might seem like a conflict of interests, so here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.

Watch out for other sick kids:

When you’re helping children gear up for an afternoon on playground equipment, one of the best things you can do to keep them germ-free is recognize other sick kids in the group. If there’s one little boy or girl who is stifling a cough or sneeze, you might want to keep him or her separate from the rest of the kids. While this child may not be sick enough to have to stay home in bed, there’s still the chance he or she could spread the illness to the other kids.

Bundle everyone up:

While winter weather doesn’t cause colds or the flu, it can increase children’s chance of developing an illness. This is because low temperatures force the body to work harder to stay warm, which means less energy is available for the immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. In order to help boost children’s immune capabilities, make sure they’re wearing plenty of warm clothing before heading outside to play. Beyond a winter jacket, snow pants, boots, scarves, winter hats and gloves can keep kids warm and toasty in the winter weather.

Provide balanced meals:

Eating right isn’t just important for maintaining a healthy weight, it’s also vital for keeping the immune system strong. A diet that features too much sugary junk food like candy, cookies and soda can actually depress and weaken the body’s ability to ward off sickness. However, foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals – particularly vitamin C-rich citrus fruits – can boost energy levels and immunity to germs. In combination with plenty of rest every night, a beneficial diet can keep children healthy.

Do you know how to keep kids safe in chilly weather?

It’s no secret that kids love to spend their time outside on plastic playgrounds, even when the weather is less than ideal. Because of this, it’s critical to be mindful of how children are dressed when they’re allowed to use playground equipment in inclement weather. For instance, cold temperatures can raise the risk of hypothermia in little ones, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Similarly, rainy weather can result in health complications when kids are permitted to play outdoors under cloudy skies. Here are some tips on how to ensure that individuals are properly dressed for all weather conditions prior to allowing them to use the playgrounds at your facility.

Look for extra layers:

Extra layers of clothing above and below the waist are essential for outdoor play, especially during winter, according to the Appalachian Mountain Club. Ideally, children should have an undershirt or a fleece beneath their coat. Similarly, long-johns can be worn underneath waterproof pants to provide additional warmth to little ones while they run around the playground.

Keep extremities protected:

Some of the most vulnerable areas of the body are the bands and feet. To keep them safe, children should be wearing gloves and thick socks while playing outdoors. Additionally, hats and scarves may be needed to keep them comfortable and shielded from the elements. These items may feel a bit restrictive to kids who want freedom while using the monkey bars or the slide, but they’re necessary for safety while spending an extended period of time outside. Think about recommending pieces such as gloves instead of mittens to make the clothing more convenient to wear.

Opt for waterproofing at all costs:

Ideally, waterproof clothing should be worn to prevent children from absorbing any outdoor moisture and becoming cold. If a child does not have the proper waterproof shoes, coats or mittens, it’s critical to remove his or her clothing once it becomes moist, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. Doing so can help little ones maintain their body temperature and potentially prevent complications such as hypothermia.

Tips to keep your children fit in the winter.

With cold temperatures and snow on the ground, getting children outside onto playgrounds or open fields to play is nearly impossible in some areas. However, it’s still imperative that parents keep their kids healthy in the winter, especially when it’s so easy to sit more and move less. Here are some ways to stay active during the winter months.

Build a snowman:

Going outside to build a big snowman isn’t just a fun activity for families – it can also be a great method for staying fit. Pushing and rolling snowballs along the ground increases your heart rate and acts as a moderate form of cardiovascular activity. It’s hard work to move snow around and lift the finished mounds on top of one another.

Help with shoveling:

There’s always a sense of dread when it comes to shoveling. It’s a task that few want to take part in, but it can be an awesome physical activity for children. They don’t have to specifically help you shovel the driveway. You can assign them smaller jobs such as clearing out a path to the front door or mailbox. Better yet, tell them to shovel a design or pattern in the snow that they can look at afterward and be proud of.

Move around indoors:

It can be appealing to simply sit down and lounge when your family is stuck indoors, especially with the kids on vacation and the school playgrounds being closed. Rather than reach for the television remote, opt for the iPod stereo or any kind of speakers you own. Get your kids dancing around to music. You can also play the music while doing housework to keep the children excited. They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t even notice they’re doing housework.

Look around the community:

The residential playgrounds may be shut down for the season, but that doesn’t mean your community lacks other resources for physical activity to keep your children fit. Sometimes, local recreational centers will have open gym sessions where kids can run around and play basketball. There also might be an ice skating rink or bowling alley nearby that the whole family can go to and enjoy. Not only does it keep kids on the move, but it also brings the family together.

Winter doesn’t have to become a time of the year when the kids shut down and hibernate until the snow melts in spring. Take them outside and get them physically active. Come up with creative new ways to keep your children fit and excited – it may just rub off on you, too.

Source by Meagan Deacon