Keep your whole family active and fit this winter

Last updated on September 2nd, 2015 at 11:26 pm

Many families are concerned at this time of year about methods to stay fit when the outdoor temperature and winter weather is not as conducive to remaining active as during the summer. This is a very legitimate concern and not only speaks to burning calories but also to calcium metabolism. It is well known that Vitamin D levels can be raised by the exposure to sunlight. As a matter of fact the illness, rickets, due to a decreased level of calcium and vitamin D, occurs more frequently in situations that preclude frequent exposure to sunlight, e.g. living above the Arctic Circle where winters can at times erase all exposure to sunlight.

The first and, I believe the most important issue for families to think about is to pull the plug on televisions and computers. Not only does the Academy of Pediatrics recommend no more than two hours a day in front of a visual screen (television and computers together) but the computer has become one of the major contributors to childhood overweight issues and obesity, a very significant problem in the United States population.

The second issue is to rethink just how the winter months differ significantly from the summer months. Sure, it’s generally colder and sometimes icy and snowy but there is no reason that outdoor activity cannot take place in the winter also. Dress appropriately and get out on a bicycle with your children ( worth 140 calories an hour for a child of 50 pounds going at a moderate speed), or go for walks at even a relatively slow rate which can help burn off 50 calories an hour in that same 50 lb child. Some outdoor winter activities can burn off a large amount of calories; for example snow shoeing (200Cal/hr), ice skating (75 Cal/hr), and skiing (up to 250 Cal/hr).

One indoor activity might include walking around a museum during which the interest factor will make the loss of those 50 Cal/hr go by fast. Other indoor activities include martial arts (230Cal/hr), jumping rope (230Cal/hr)- of course it would be difficult to jump rope for an hour, swimming at your local “Y” (160 Cal/hr), shooting baskets ( 100 Cal/hr), and bowling (up to 80 Cal/hr). These activities can be cumulative, allowing you to break such activities up into smaller time increments.

If you must stay indoors at home for a day or two and if you can afford it, invest in interactive computer or television games such as Wii sports- I’ve tried it and you can really work up a sweat. Keep in mind such minimal activity as sitting quietly and reading, or even sitting in front of the television (hopefully not the case) and staying awake can burn off about 25 Cal/hr!!

Stay fit, stay active and enjoy the winter.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

Comments

One Response to “Keep your whole family active and fit this winter”

  1. I love all of those ideas and looked into some but things are so very expensive! While I agree we shouldn’t just plop in front of the TV, the gaming systems created lately encourage individuals to get up off the couch and get moving in a fun, family friendly environment. I always say if I can stand the cold, walking through snow is really good for the legs because you have to tighten everything up so you don’t fall! Great article!

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