Winter Indoor Exercise Ideas

by Yuliya Bilan Yu, MSN, CRNP

As part of a balanced lifestyle, all kids and teenagers need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Not only does it help to create a healthy habit for life, but daily exercise also boosts the immune system, improves mood, regulates energy, and can help with concentration and learning. The 60 minutes do not have to be all at once, feel free to break it up throughout the day and do more if desired. If the cold weather is keeping you from going outside, consider some of these fun ideas for the family to engage in at home instead:  

  • Set up activity stations: Label each area with a type of exercise you would like the kids to do, such as jumping jacks, crawling under a rope, jogging in place, hula hoop, etc. Set a timer, then rotate through all the stations. Invite friends for more fun!
  • Freeze dance: Play some music and stop it at random times. When the music stops, everyone “freezes” in place. Then, see who has “frozen” in the funniest or most creative dance move.
  • Yoga JENGA: Write down a yoga move on each of the JENGA blocks with a pencil. Every time a block is pulled out, each player has to do the written yoga move. If the tower falls, do the plank for 30 seconds.
  • Treasure hunt: Scatter some objects on the floor around the house, such as coins/tokens or another item that won’t be painful to step on. Play music while the players try to gather as many as they can within a set timeframe and bring them back to the “treasure chest.” To make the game more challenging, have the kids focus on collecting only one category of objects at each level of the game (such as only green tokens). If there are small children or babies around, make sure the items are larger so they are not a choking hazard.
  • Crab carry: Teach your kids how to walk like a crab by placing their palms and feet to the floor while raising their stomach up to face the sky. Staying in that pose, let them see how long they can balance something like a bean bag on their belly. Crab races are also another fun option.
  • Reading Workout: Pick a common word in a children’s book and every time that word is read aloud, have your child do a jumping jack.
  • Bowling in your hallway: Use masking tape to create a bowling lane and empty plastic bottles for pins. You don’t need a real bowling ball since a tennis ball or another light ball will do!
  • Follow the leader: Take turns being “the leader” who decides on a fun exercise, such as jumping, spinning in place, dancing, etc. while the other players follow the action.
  • Train to be a superhero: Sell your child on the idea that superheroes work out every day to build strong muscles. Then have him or her do a set of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, step-ups, balanced hops on each foot, jump roping, etc. Set goals and use a chart on the wall, with stickers if desired, to track progress. It is a good activity to incorporate into their morning routine, especially for kids who might still be feeling sleepy when waking up on winter mornings.

Ideally, you would also limit screen time while increasing physical activity. An exception would be an active video game that encourages movement or children’s workout videos to follow. It is also worth checking out if your local community center, such as the YMCA, offers activities for kids and teens.

Finally, as with any play or physical activity, keep safety in mind and have fun!

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