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Indoor Physical Activity for Bad Weather Days
There’s nothing worse than a long stretch of bad weather when you have little kids in the house! On top of that, the newest recommendation is that children exercise a minimum of 60 minutes each day. So, what’s a parent to do?

I’ll start by referring you back to the article “Cheap and Easy Fitness” on this website (and linked below). There are lots of great ideas for keeping kids occupied and active. In this article, I’m adding a few new ideas to liven things up a bit!

1. Fast-paced Simon Says:
  • Simon Says run in place real fast
  • Simon Says sway your arms from side to side (feet apart slightly, lean over with arms hanging and sway)
  • Simon Says hop up and down on one foot
  • Simon Says hop up and down on the other foot!
  • Simon Says act like a bird and flap your arms
  • Simon Says lean back (carefully) and look at the ceiling then bend over and look at the floor—do it 10 times, slowly.
  • Simon Says shake like a wet dog!
  • Simon Says climb an imaginary beanstalk that reaches into the clouds

These can go on forever! Use your imagination. Repeat the movements until your child looks tired or bored. And don’t forget to do it with him!

2. Build a tunnel with chairs and blankets. Count to 10 and time your child’s progress from beginning to end as he crawls through. It also helps to teach him numbers—and it serves as a nice little retreat when he needs one!

3. If you have a place to hang something, try this entertaining activity. Take a soft ball (any size up to 5 inches) and slide it into the cutoff leg of a pair of pantyhose. Hang it from above and have your child swat at it. The idea is to see how many times in a row your child can return the ball. It’s great for eye-hand coordination, stretching and makes a great competitive game for more than one child, or a child and parent! A note of caution: make sure the ball is high enough that your little one can’t wrap the hose around his neck.

4. Giant floor puzzles are a lot of fun and encourage constant movement such as stretching, standing, sitting and kneeling. Even a puzzle that has been done many times still requires movement to put back together.

5. When is the last time you played Hide and Seek with your child? Can you remember the excitement of waiting for the seeker to find you, and then trying so hard to run to home before getting tagged? Depending on the age of the player, you may have to modify the rules of the game. After all, you don’t want a little one to fall and get hurt trying to get “home,” so you might have to run in place for a few minutes to let her get a good head start. Hide and Seek has always been a great indoor game for getting the heart rate up!

I think we have forgotten how to entertain our children and ourselves. As a result, we have kids who don’t move, don’t sleep well and are growing up without any fun memories. Additionally, children who don’t move very often don’t get hungry because they aren’t burning up energy. When they do, we tend to offer snack foods they can eat in front of the TV.

Get your children up and moving then offer a healthy snack, such as peanut butter on crackers and cut-up fruit as a follow-up to an energetic activity. Staying indoors in bad weather does not limit you or your child to an inactive day. And it’s amazing how simple fun can erase all traces of cabin fever!
Susan M. Leisner RD, IBCLC, RLC Nutritionist & Lactation Consultant