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Ideas for staying active at home during the Winter months

Written by Emma Willacy, edited by Kelly Wynn

Stay active encourages children aged 2-14 to engage in physical activity every day.

We know that everyone, including adults, struggle to stay active during the winter months, when it is cold outside. But, despite the weather, it is important to keep children active. As outlined in the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, children aged 1 – 5 years should engage in at least 3-hours of various physical activities each day, including energetic play. The guideline also states that children aged 5 - 14 years should participate in at least 60-minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

As stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are many benefits of staying active for children, some of these benefits include:

- Physical fitness (muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness)

- Bone health

- Mental health (reduce symptoms of depression)

- Cognitive outcomes (academic performance, memory, thinking and self-control)

- Maintaining healthy body weight

With winter now underway, it is time for you and your child to stay active. Here are some ideas of simple games that you can play with your child at home:

Children aged 2 – 5 years old (Pre-school)

Animal movements are a great way for young children to stay active. With no equipment needed to play this game, children will use their imaginations to move their bodies like different animals. Some animal movement examples include: side stepping like a crab, waddling like a penguin, galloping like a horse, jumping like a kangaroo, stomping like an elephant, leaping like a frog and flapping like a bird. As children pretend to move their bodies like different animals, they are developing gross motor skills, including locomotor skills, learning about spatial awareness, and improving their strength, balance, and flexibility.

Children aged 6-8 years old (Junior primary)

If you are looking for something to do with your 6 - 8-year-olds, throwing and catching, and target games are a great way to keep your child active. The game ‘Hot Potato’ is a simple game to start with. All you need to play this game is a soft ball or small bean bag. In a small group of 1-3 players, children are to throw the ball or bean bag to each other as quickly as possible. To make the game more enjoyable, you can play short segments of music while the ball or bean bag is being thrown. When the music stops, the person who is holding the ball or touched it last has to compete 5-star jumps!

Children aged 9-14 years old (Upper primary)

If you are looking for something to keep your 9-14 year old child engaged for a long period of time, encourage them to create their own fitness circuit. Here is one we created if you are in need of some inspiration. This can be done either indoors or outdoors on grass, or undercover if it is raining. Using everyday household items and some paper, children can design several stations with different activities to rotate through. Through creating their own fitness circuits, children will adopt new skills including self-awareness, and self-management.

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