Children should play outside every day, even in winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day for children ages 5 and up. This is a hard task to accomplish by only playing inside everyday.
“Children of all ages enjoy and benefit from playing outdoors. Daily outdoor play is healthy and burns energy. It gives children an opportunity for a change of environment, a balance in play and routine, and engagement in large muscle activities (i.e. gross-motor development). Even children who are mildly ill but active should go outside if the weather is not severe. Taking children outdoors daily, even in winter, can be a healthy part of their schedule, and is safe with appropriate clothing.” – Excerpt from education.com
It is a myth that you get a cold from playing outdoors. Studies have shown that contrary to the common belief that “exposure to cold air causes a cold,” fresh air is healthy and good for the body. When children and adults spend a long time together in indoor spaces that are small, overheated and poorly ventilated, germs and illnesses pass easily from one person to another. In fresh, outdoor air, children do not have to re-breathe the germs of the group, and the chance for spreading infection is reduced.
Five tips for safe outdoor winter play:
- Use Sunscreen -The reflection of the sun off of the snow and ice can be almost as damaging as direct exposure. Sunscreen is important all year round.
- Dress for Success – Dress your children in waterproof clothes and boots to help keep them dry. Ensure kids are comfortable enough for play. Too many tight layers can make it difficult for kids to keep their balance. Be cautious of scarves – choose a cowl-style scarf so that a loose scarf doesn’t become a choking hazard.
- Know the Signs of Frostbite – Frostbite occurs when your child’s skin or extremities are literally frozen. Keep exposed skin to a minimum.
- Insist on Warm-Up Breaks – Insist on periodic warm-up breaks to check for signs of hypothermia or frostbite and ensure children don’t get too cold.
- Don’t Forget About Dehydration – Dehydration isn’t a concern reserved solely for warm-weather months. While your children are enjoying a session of outdoor play, be sure that they’re taking in plenty of fluids.
What outdoor winter play activities does your family enjoy?