kids skating

Colder temperatures and shorter days make staying inside much easier during the winter months, but a lack of outdoor playtime can take its toll on your kids. While it can be hard to wrangle children to get back indoors during the summer months, even the most active children may hesitate to run around and play outside when the weather is frosty.

In the winter, it is estimated that children burn only half as many calories as they do in the summer. Not only does the lack of exercise have a negative effect on their physical well-being, it also allows kids to store up a lot of unused energy. So, what can you do to help them use this energy? See our tips below for fun indoor — and a few outdoor for those who wish to brave to cold — ideas for keeping your kids active.

Go Bowling or Ice Skating

Head to the bowling alley to enjoy a few games as a family, or if you don’t mind cooler temperatures, visit your nearest ice skating rink for a fun winter activity that can burn about twice as many calories as walking.

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Visit the Local Fitness Center

Wellness centers or gyms often have classes specifically for kids. Look into things like swimming (indoor, of course), dance, gymnastics, or martial arts. Some gyms may even have winter sports teams for kids, such as soccer or basketball. Ask about classes that the whole family can participate in.

Play Outside

If the cold doesn’t bother you or your kids, get out there! Build a snowman, go sled riding, or take the family skiing, snow tubing, or snowboarding (with close adult supervision and safety equipment). The kids can even help with shoveling small areas under your supervision. If you’re outside, make sure you are dressed appropriately, and take other safety precautions to stay warm, prevent frostbite, and have fun.

Limit Time Spent on Video Games, Television, and Other Media

It’s important to keep your kids from sitting around too much, which can be easy to do once the temperatures drop. Make sure the time spent on screen media is limited to one or two hours daily, and try to incorporate children’s exercise video games, such as Wii FitTM or Kinect® for Xbox®.

Take a Trip to the Mall

Just walking around the shopping center with your kids is a good way to get moving. You can even take the stairs instead of escalators or elevators.

It’s also important to make sure your children are staying hydrated and eating healthy in the winter and throughout the year.

Whatever you decide to do to get your kids moving this winter, be sure that you’re staying active, too, so that you can set a healthy example.

For more information on making sure your child is maintaining a healthy weight, please visit the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Endocrine Wellness Center webpage.

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.