(Stephanie Walsh, M.D., is the author of this article. Walsh is medical director of Child Wellness, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.)
The holiday season has arrived! It's a time for parties, presents and holiday cheer. However, it can also be a season of little activity and over-indulging. As the weather cools down, children are often tempted to stay inside in front of the TV or a video game rather than play outside. Holiday specials also can draw your family to the TV screen this time of year. Eating healthily can present additional challenges when faced with party buffets, holiday sweets and large family meals.
Don't let the holidays stop you from staying healthy! Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, through its Strong4Life program, aims to help families tackle the issue of childhood obesity in Georgia. Getting more activity is a great way to balance the extra calories consumed this time of year. Remember that small steps can add up to big changes!
While there's no harm in relaxing, there are a lot of fun ways you can stay active this winter. Instead of giving gifts like video games or DVDs that promote screen time, try giving gifts that promote physical activity like a Frisbee, jump rope or football. The holidays are a great time to have fun together as a family, so try one of the ideas below to get everyone moving!
Winter Activity Ideas
• Create your own family "boot camp," combining indoor and outdoor exercises that everyone can do together.
• Set up an obstacle course indoors with everyday household items (for instance, pillows make great obstacles to jump over!).
• Set up a scavenger hunt around the house, yard or neighborhood.
• See who can do the most push-ups, jumping jacks, or exercise of your choice during a commercial break (have a 'counter' and an 'exerciser' and switch each break, make it a friendly competition).
• Bundle up and play outside! Walk the dog, play touch football, Frisbee or kickball.
• If the weather really won't allow for "play time" outside, have a dance party or play hide-and-go-seek.
• If you're going to play a video game, choose one that requires physical activity rather than just sitting on the couch.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare systems in the country, offers health and safety tips for parents and children. You can view a variety of expert tips at www.choa.org/healthandsafetytips. Children's is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community.