Staying Active This Winter Season
Staying active is more important now than ever before. Developing and maintaining an active lifestyle not only promotes a healthy body, but a healthy mind. As we navigate the winter season, getting the exercise and movement that our body needs can be difficult. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly limited our ability to safely access schools, gyms, and workout classes. Taking all the recommended precautions to avoid the virus is vital, but it is also incredibly important that we take time for self-care and mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. In today’s blog, we’ll be covering activities that you and your family can do to keep your bodies and minds healthy.
Yoga is a great activity that can be performed in the comfort of your living room while giving your body and mind a great workout. Scheduling 30 minutes out of your busy day to focus solely on yoga can bring you some peace and mindfulness as well as helping turn stress into relaxation regardless of your age. Browsing YouTube is a great way to find yoga videos for all ages and experience levels. Young children will especially love learning “animal yoga” poses. Yoga, as well as the activities outlined in this blog, can be a lot more fun if you’re able to include other family members in your household.
Indoor Obstacle Course
Everyone enjoys a good obstacle course! Working with other family members to plan, set up, and participate in an obstacle course inside your home is a great way to get some movement while having some pure, spontaneous fun. Plan the route that the players will take, set up different stations or objectives that players must complete such as tossing balls into buckets, jumping over pillows, or crawling under tables. To add some extra competition to the activity, you can have a supervising adult time the contestants to see who can complete the course the quickest.
Dancing is great cardiovascular exercise and incredibly social. Getting your blood pumping and smiling while dancing to your favorite songs with your family is a great way to boost your mood. Dancing can be structured or unstructured depending on your preference. You and your family can look up some dance routines and put your minds to the test by learning and choreographing fun dance routines. For extra fun, records yourselves so you can play it back to enjoy again.
Crafts are a wonderful way to work on functional skills like fine motor coordination, visual-motor integration (such as eye-hand coordination), and planning/problem-solving skills. In addition to targeting some of these developmental skills, crafts can be a lot of fun when done independently or with others. The feeling of accomplishing something by yourself is a great way to lift your mood, on the other hand, completing a craft with others is an even better way to build morale and teamwork within your family. You can find some creative seasonal-based crafts that you can do by yourself or with others such as creating cutting out paper snowflakes, working on some winter-themed color-by-numbers, or creating homemade Valentine’s Day cards.
Whether you have a selection of team-based board games or multiplayer video games that get you up and moving, dedicating a few hours one evening a week to playing games can improve your mood and the mood of those around you. Choosing the right game is important, so take into account the ages and ability levels of those playing or be aware that you may have to make some adjustments to the rules or settings to ensure everyone has a fun time. Some examples of enjoyable board games for younger children that also work to develop everyday learning skills include; Zingo!, Guess Who?, Chutes and Ladders, and Sequence for Kids. Some examples of higher-level or more challenging board games for older children, which target executive functioning skills such as reasoning, planning, and problem-solving include: Clue, Settlers of Catan, and Monopoly.
Although playing video games is typically seen as a solitary and sedentary activity, there are many options that provide players with an active and group-based experience to help you and your family stay moving this winter season. Games like Just Dance, Mario Tennis, or Super Mario Party are just a few examples of games for the Nintendo Switch console which promote both physical movement and cooperative play with multiple players.
Games of all varieties can help develop skills, but they are also a great way to work on coping strategies for emotional and behavioral self-regulation. As playing games and being competitive can result in a range of emotions, be sure to take some time before and after playing to discuss some strategies that you or your family members can use to help manage emotions such as anger, frustration, or sadness. By doing this, you are building an awareness of emotions as well as developing strategies that can be used to help manage them in the future.
Embrace the Snowfall
Being a Michigander, we all know that it’s not a matter of if we’ll be receiving some heavy snow this year, but when. However, we can use the upcoming accumulation of snow to our advantage by planning snow-based activities that get our bodies moving and making sure our brains are releasing those “feel good” hormones. Building snowmen, crafting snow forts, and making snow angels in your yard are just a few ideas that kids and adults alike can enjoy. After the first big snowfall of the year, the last thing anyone wants to do is shovel their driveway and sidewalk, but including the family in this task is a great heavy work activity that all can help with. The job gets done more quickly and everyone gets some physical activity and sensory input from shoveling the snow which can be incredibly regulating and calming upon completion.