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Keeping kids active is important as the days get shorter and colder

Nov 23, 2023
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Do colder mornings and darker afternoons have you and your kids wishing you could hibernate until spring?

SIMCOE MUSKOKA – Do colder mornings and darker afternoons have you and your kids wishing you could hibernate until spring? The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) encourages families with kids and teens to stay physically active and to continue with their active school travel routines even when it is cold and snowy.

According to the 2022 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, only 28 percent of kids aged 5 to 17 years are getting the recommended minimum of 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, such as brisk walking, wheeling and playing sports.

Making time to walk or wheel to and from school is one of the easiest ways for school-aged children to get regular daily physical activity. Being physically active is linked with better overall health for everyone and is important every day of the year. Children and youth who participate in higher levels of physical activity have improved physical and mental health as well as greater mental, emotional and social well-being. Children and youth who are physically active benefit from greater self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety and depression, and are better able to learn when in school.

To keep the journey to school enjoyable during the colder months, prepare by checking the weather forecast and dressing accordingly. Dressing for the weather helps to preserve body heat and keeps you comfortable. A wind/waterproof jacket and snowpants will help kids stay warm and dry when playing outside. When temperatures are colder, add a fleece or wool sweater mid-layer for extra comfort and protection. Top it off with a hat, gloves or mittens (including an extra set for when the first set gets wet), and a tube-shaped neck warmer or a scarf to cover exposed skin. Finally, a pair of winter boots with good treads will keep feet warm and offer stability that can help prevent slips and falls on ice or in slushy and snowy conditions. Check out what boots have the best slip ratings.

For parents, active travel isn’t only for getting your kids to and from school. You can be active when going to work, running errands or during leisure time. If you take public transit, consider getting off a stop or two early and walking the rest of the way to your destination; or if you are driving, park a block or two away to get in some extra movement. You can also get the whole family moving by choosing sports and physical activities where everyone can participate after school and on weekends.

Encouraging kids to walk or wheel to the places they need to go becomes a healthy habit that can last a lifetime. For information about how to prepare your kids for walking and wheeling to school or to learn more about physical activity, visit smdhu.org/OnTheMove or call Health Connection on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

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