Healthy Children - January 2016

Move More this Winter

How to get your kids active indoors

Health experts recommend that children get 60 minutes of “moderate too vigorous” physical activity a day. That means any exercise that gets the heart beating fast and gets kids breathing hard. Recent studies indicate that just one in four kids in the U.S. are achieving that level of activity a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children should have no more than two hours of screen time per day, yet today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on electronic media.

 Physical activity is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Physically active children tend to physically active adults and a lifetime of physical activity can lead to better health. Increasing children’s activity levels on a daily basis can bring additional benefits Being active can help improve academic performance, reduce behavioral problems, help with conflict resolution, and contribute to a positive environment in schools, communities and families.

 As the mother of two very active outdoor-loving children, I dread cold winter months with long dark nights. Keeping kids active and “not bored” can be challenging. Going to the YMCA is a great way to get the wiggles out on a cold afternoon. But there are activities that you can do at home as well. I know we love a good dance party at our house. Put on your family’s favorite radio or Pandora station and turn your living room into a dance floor! Here are some resources for programs that we use at genHkids to get kids up and moving, which can be adapted for your use at home.

 The Sangamon County nonprofit genHkids educations parents, teachers and children on how to “Move More” through our physical activity programs in schools and at community events. One such program is called Brain Breaks. These brief activities (one to five minutes each) are designed to get kids up and moving vigorously, thus increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to their brains. Brain Breaks recharge kids’ brains and get them ready for learning and listening.

 Parents can use Brain Breaks at home as a way to increase physical activity before or after school, to recharge their children during home-work, or create a distraction from unwanted behavior.

 The goal of genHkids’ Jumpstart is to inject 12 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at the start of every school day. This is to “JumpStart” students’ bodies and brains, and to encourage the development of lifelong skills and movement. The JumpStart program has been such a hit at school that we been a hit at schools that we have created a series of videos that parents can use at home as well.

 Over the last year, genHkids has partnered with nonprofit called Playworks. Playworks has developed a library of thousands of game ideas that you can search online. Many of these games can be played inside. Playworks has instructional videos on YouTube that provide tutorials and additional ideals about some games as well.

 We parents all know that keeping our kids active is important to their overall health and wellness. With some creativity and planning we don’t have to let the lack of warmth and sunshine outdoors slow us down indoors this winter. If you have a favorite indoor physical activity that you us with your children, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or share on our Facebook page. We love learning new ideas and sharking with others.