Health Matters | Tips to Keep Kids Active During Winter Break

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Tips to Keep Kids Active During Winter Break

When spring and summer are here, it is easy to find games and activities in which your children can participate. However, once the winter months roll around, it is often more tempting for kids to stay warm indoors by parking themselves in front of a television or wasting the day away on their smartphones. If you want to make sure your little ones stay active despite the chilly weather, try out some of the fun ideas below!

Hit the Gym
When temperatures drop, outdoor games are not always the best idea. What is a parent to do in this circumstance? If you have a family gym membership, it can be a great place to take your kids to get some exercise while having a ton of fun! Most gyms usually have a play area specifically for young children, and several even have an indoor swimming pool open to gym members of all ages.

Snowball Fight!
If you live in an area that is lucky enough to see snow during the winter months, then throw on those winter coats and boots and take full advantage of it with your kids! Have some fun by sledding, building a snowman together, or even having a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Enjoying the snow is a free way to stay active and have a blast!

Brain Power
In addition to staying physically active, it is important to make sure your children are staying mentally active as well. During a long winter break from school, it is easy to spend hours doing mindless activities such as surfing the internet or binge-watching a new television show. Help you kids break this habit by spending the day at a local library or taking them to a museum! Reading is a great way to keep the mind fresh, and kids can have fun choosing their own books to take home. Additionally, many art, science, and history museums feature interactive exhibits and age-appropriate activities that will keep your little ones engaged and excited, all while learning something new!

It doesn’t have to be difficult to keep your kids active during the winter months. These ideas are just a couple of helpful tools you can use to motivate them to have some healthy, productive fun!




  • Tips to Stay Hydrated This Winter
    Scarf. Gloves. Snow boots. Water bottle. One of these things is not like the others, but it is just as important. When the sun is shining on a hot summer day, packing a bottle of water is part of the routine. But in winter, it is sometimes forgotten. The truth is you need just as much water in winter as you do during the steamy summer months.

    You may miss the warning signs of dehydration in winter because your body does not sweat as much during this time of year. Nearly 70% of your body is made up of water. If you don’t keep it replenished, you could suffer exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination or even stroke.

    Do you want the flu to bring you down this time of year? Of course not. So drink plenty of water, because dehydration makes you an easy target for colds and flu.

    Bundling up this time of year can also make us sweat more than usual when it’s time to get active. Since we dress in layers with turtlenecks and sweaters, our bodies work harder (by sweating) to cool us down. Shoveling snow, skiing, ice-skating, sledding or even building a snowman can be just as strenuous as summer activities. We work up a healthy sweat, and all of that lost water must be replaced.

    Don’t think that you lose as much water during the winter? Take a look at your breath when you walk outside on a cold day. All of that steam is water vapor escaping your body with each breath.

    How much water do you need to drink every day during the winter? The bottom line is that we are all different and have different activity levels during the winter, so only you know how much water you need every day.

    How can you tell if you getting enough liquids? If you feel thirsty your body is already partially dehydrated. Another sign can be found in the bathroom. Yes, we went there. If your urine is clear or light-colored, you are doing fine. If it is yellow, then it’s time for more water.

    Here are some tips to keep you hydrated this winter:
    • Drink before, during, and after exercise. You may not sweat as much or feel as thirsty as you do during the summer, but keep drinking.
    • Drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces every day. A 120 pound woman should drink 60 ounces of water per day.
    • Balance diuretics with water. Diuretics (like alcohol and caffeine) cause more water loss through urine.
    • Eat more water-based foods like soup, fruits, and vegetables. They are a great source of hydration and nutrients.
    • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.

    If you need one more reason to stay hydrated this time of year, here you go: Too little water makes it tougher to keep off extra pounds. Since we all tend to eat more during the winter, a well hydrated body can help control your appetite and break down fat for energy more efficiently. You’ll be happy you hydrated when swimsuit season rolls around!
  • 7 Ways to Stay Active During the Fall Season
    Summer has come to a close and the warm weather is fading. While you might not be able to do your favorite summer activities during fall, these tips can help you stay active during the colder season. Include the family and encourage them to stay fit this fall!

    Take a Hike
    Take an afternoon off and hike your favorite trail – or make your own! Hike up the side of a mountain to get some fresh air and enjoy the fall foliage. Bring a pair of binoculars along and watch the wildlife.

    Sleep Outside
    Head to a local camping ground and pitch a tent for a night. Enjoy the fall weather and get some fresh air! Pack up the family and make a weekend out of it.

    Ride a Bike
    Biking is a great way to get active in the fall! Head to a local park or trail and enjoy the weather. Ride with a friend and pack a healthy snack for when you reach the top!

    Enjoy Fall's Harvest
    Many fruits and veggies are in harvest during the fall season. Check out your local farmer’s market or head to the orchard to pick your own apples, pumpkins, and other seasonal edibles.

    Attend a Fall Festival
    Festivals are a great way to get the whole family active and outdoors. Meet up with a friend and engage in fun activities that celebrate fall, like corn mazes and hay rides.

    Do Some Yard Work
    With the leaves falling off the trees, you have plenty of work ahead of you! Raking can be a great upper body workout to keep you toned during the fall season. Rake leaves into one large pile – and let the kids jump in it! Remember to warm up with a few stretches before you begin working. Your muscles will thank you for it. Start with a short walk to loosen the muscles, followed by a 5 to 10 minute stretching session. This will help prevent injury to your back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck.

    Take the Game Outside
    You don’t have to spend the season watching football on the couch – head outside with the family to toss a ball around after dinner! See who can make the most touchdowns and get in a fun workout at the same time!

    Don’t let the weather keep you inside all day! Grab a jacket and head outside to stay active during the fall season.
  • Winter Storm Safety Tips
    The Mid-Atlantic is bracing for a major winter storm that could drop a lot of snow across the region this weekend. This storm could create potentially dangerous conditions. It is important to keep some basic winter safety tips in mind during and after the storm:

    Shoveling Snow
    A necessary evil after a snow storm, shoveling snow can pose a health risk for many people. Snow shoveling is a strenuous activity. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Individuals with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes should not shovel snow.

    If you must shovel snow, shovel as early as possible. Snow is heavier after it has been on the ground for a few days - often melting and re-freezing, creating a solid chunk of snow rather than powdery, just-fallen snow. Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated and prepare your body for shoveling by warming up. Jog in place or do ten jumping jacks before you begin to shovel, as this will get your blood flowing before you begin. Also, be sure to take your time and move slowly when shoveling snow. Shoveling too fast can increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk for spraining or pulling a muscle.

    Walking on Ice
    Icy patches can be difficult to see. The slips and falls caused by ice can be serious. If you come across an area that you believe may be icy, tap the edge of the area with your foot to be sure. Wear shoes with gripping soles to provide traction. Also, keep your hands out of your pockets when walking in order to keep your balance on a slippery surface. Don’t carry heavy items like shopping bags with you when walking on slippery surfaces. This can change your center of balance, making you more likely to slip and fall.

    When getting out of your vehicle, check to make sure there are no icy spots near your vehicle. If you are parked on a slick spot, move the vehicle to a different area if you can. Also, when entering and exiting your car while on ice, use the vehicle for balance and support.

    Frostbite
    Frostbite occurs when skin and its underlying tissue are exposed to very cold temperatures and freezing conditions. Skin that appears waxy or hard and has a gray tone may have frostbite. The damaged skin may also itch or burn and may turn red in color as the affected area thaws.

    The first step to treating frostbite is to get out of the cold. Get inside to a warm place as soon as possible. Once inside, remove any wet clothing. If you cannot get out of the cold, place your hands under your arms to warm them. Also, cover areas that can be most affected by frostbite (nose and ears) with a scarf and try not to walk if your feet may have frostbite, as this will make the condition worse.

    Frostbite is generally treated by gradually warming the skin. Remember to seek the treatment of a medical professional as soon as possible if you think you may have frostbite.

  • Seven Tips to Encourage Your Kids to Wash Their Hands
    Getting kids to remember to wash their hands may sometimes be a difficult task. With children returning to school, they are exposed to many kinds of germs that they can bring into your house. Teaching kids to wash their hands after they use the restroom, before they eat, and when they come home from school will help your child remain healthy and happy. Making hand washing fun is a great way to keeps kids reminded, and even excited, about hand washing. Check out these fun tips to encourage kids to wash their hands:

    Sing
    Children love to sing, so encourage your child to sing their favorite song for the duration of their hand washing. When the song is over, they can wash away the soap and be on their way! Get creative with your songs – make your own, or sing season related songs. If you’re stumped for a song check out these creative song ideas:
    • Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques: “Top and bottom, top and bottom, in between, in between, rub your hands together, rub your hands together, they’re all clean, squeaky clean!”
    • Sung twice to the tune of Row Your Boat: “Wash wash wash your hands, wash them nice and clean, scrub the fronts and scrub the backs and scrub the in betweens.”
    • If you’re still stumped, sing the Happy Birthday song through twice – really any song will work!

    Have a Dance-Off
    If singing isn’t for you, try turning on a radio and dance together for one song while scrubbing. Play your child’s favorite song and wash away the germs when the song ends.

    Get Crafty
    Mix water and glitter in a spray bottle. Give your child’s hands a spray and have them wash until all the glitter is removed from their hands. This is great for little kids who are all about glitter!

    Make it fun
    Tell your child that they are special Germ Fighters and give them the task of protecting themselves and others from germ invasion! Adventurous kids will love this brave task!

    Get Wacky
    Forget about boring soap dispensers, companies make all kids of fun shaped bottles and soaps. From soap shaped like trucks and robots to cupcakes and gummy bears, your kid will get a giggle out of these funny shapes. They even make soap bottles that light up in a disco show for the duration of the washing cycle. What could be cooler?

    Make it a Treat
    Kids love using their parents’ things and sometimes you have to get creative. Designate a bottle of soap as Mommy or Daddy’s “special soap”. Make it seem very important and odds are they will beg you to let them use your special soap.

    When All Else Fails
    Use foam – what kid wouldn’t want to play with soap foam? You can even blow bubbles with it!

    Teaching kids to wash their hands early on will create healthy habits. It is recommended that everyone scrub their hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing away soap to ensure that all germs wash away with the bubbles. Don’t forget to turn off the spigot while scrubbing to save water!

  • Stay Safe During and After the Winter Storm
    Snow is quickly accumulating in Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia this morning, creating potentially dangerous conditions. It is important to keep some basic winter safety tips in mind during and after the storm:

    Shoveling Snow
    A necessary evil after a snow storm, shoveling snow can pose a health risk for many people. Snow shoveling is a strenuous activity. It can increase blood pressure and heart rate. Individuals with a history of heart disease, high blood pressure or strokes should not shovel snow.

    If you must shovel snow, shovel as early as possible. Snow is heavier after it has been on the ground for a few days - often melting and re-freezing, creating a solid chunk of snow rather than powdery, just-fallen snow. Also, make sure that you are properly hydrated and prepare your body for shoveling by warming up. Jog in place or do ten jumping jacks before you begin to shovel, as this will get your blood flowing before you begin. Also, be sure to take your time and move slowly when shoveling snow. Shoveling too fast can increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk for spraining or pulling a muscle.

    Walking on Ice
    Icy patches can be difficult to see. The slips and falls caused by ice can be serious. If you come across an area that you believe may be icy, tap the edge of the area with your foot to be sure. Wear shoes with gripping soles to provide traction. Also, keep your hands out of your pockets when walking in order to keep your balance on a slippery surface. Don’t carry heavy items like shopping bags with you when walking on slippery surfaces. This can change your center of balance, making you more likely to slip and fall.

    When getting out of your vehicle, check to make sure there are no icy spots near your vehicle. If you are parked on a slick spot, move the vehicle to a different area if you can. Also, when entering and exiting your car while on ice, use the vehicle for balance and support.

    Frostbite
    Frostbite occurs when skin and its underlying tissue are exposed to very cold temperatures and freezing conditions. Skin that appears waxy or hard and has a gray tone may have frostbite. The damaged skin may also itch or burn and may turn red in color as the affected area thaws.

    The first step to treating frostbite is to get out of the cold. Get inside to a warm place as soon as possible. Once inside, remove any wet clothing. If you cannot get out of the cold, place your hands under your arms to warm them. Also, cover areas that can be most affected by frostbite (nose and ears) with a scarf and try not to walk if your feet may have frostbite, as this will make the condition worse.

    Frostbite is generally treated by gradually warming the skin. Remember to seek the treatment of a medical professional as soon as possible if you think you may have frostbite.


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