Keeping Your Kids Active This Winter with UP Health System – Bell FNP Amelia Schafer
February 2, 2024
During the cold, winter months here in the Upper Peninsula, it’s easy to slow down and slip into habits that keep us cozy and warm. However, despite the frigid temps, it’s important to stay active year-round. Physical activity is valuable for people of all ages, but starting healthy habits in childhood can make a huge impact long term. There are plenty of opportunities in our snowy climate for family-friendly activities, both indoors and outdoors, that promote a healthy lifestyle—so bundle up and get out there and enjoy!
UP Health System – Bell | Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner Amelia Schafer—who specializes in pediatric and young adult patients aged 0-30 and Women’s Care— has provided some tips on staying active and safe this winter.
Q: Why is staying physically active so important for our health?
A: Regular physical activity is important for promoting lifelong health and well-being. There are many benefits of being physically active including improving brain health, managing a healthy weight, strengthening muscles and bones, reducing risk of disease, improving mobility, and improving mental health.
Q: What are some health impacts of being sedentary—both short and long-term?
A: Sedentary lifestyles can increase risks of developing various health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.
Q: How much activity or movement should kids aim to get each day?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 get at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.
There are lots of great ways to achieve this, like hiking, biking, running, skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, or simply playing out in the snow. You can also take your activity indoors with things like basketball, volleyball swimming, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, dance, etc. There are many community resources that families can advantage of, like indoor play areas, local businesses that focus on movement and physical activity, community centers and organized events.
The most important thing is to find an activity you enjoy so you will want to stick with it!
Q: What are some ways kids can stay safe while playing outdoors this winter?
A: It is important to wear layers when playing outdoors. Start with snug base layers and then add bulkier layers on top. Waterproof gear is great for keeping kids dry and warm while playing in the snow. A general rule of thumb is kids should wear one more layer than adults. Be sure to always have warm boots, scarves, gloves, and a hat. Reflective clothing is advised, especially if playing outside after dark. Additionally:
- Take breaks when playing outdoors and have children come inside to warm up periodically to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
- If children ski or snowboard, ensure they use helmets specifically approved for those activities and know the rules of the slopes. Properly fitting equipment is important for other activities as well, like hockey and figure skating.
- Take caution with ice skating and only skate on approved surfaces.
- If your plans involve transportation, be sure to monitor the weather to avoid driving in dangerous conditions. Additionally, clothing that’s great for playing outdoors might not be safe while in the car—babies and children should wear thin, snug layers while in their car seat to ensure their harness fits properly.
To learn more about Amelia or one of our other Family Medicine providers, visit UPHealthSystem.com/find-a-doctor.