December 6, 2016

Fight the Winter Blues: Stay Active at Home and School

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are getting cooler, but ‒ tempting as it may be ‒ that doesn’t mean it’s time to hibernate for the winter. Instead, it’s time to get creative! There are plenty of ways to keep kids active (and keep parents and teachers sane) when the weather’s too cold to go outside.

As an Alliance National Advisor, I have the privilege of working with schools enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program all across the country.


Here’s what I’ve seen that works:


1. Put it in writing

Establish an indoor recess policy at your school that states that recess will not be canceled, but moved inside when the weather is too wet or cold. Once it becomes a policy, it’s harder to make excuses.


2. Be creative

No gymnasium available for recess? Convert your cafeteria into a gym or map out a track in your school’s hallways. You can make just about any space an active one with the right motivation.


3. Use whatever “equipment” you have available

You don’t need fancy equipment to get moving. Try jogging in place, jumping jacks, or holding yoga poses, which you can do even in a classroom setting. Check out our physical activity break cards (Spanish version) for more ideas.


When students head home over winter break, it’s important that they keep up their active habits so you can pick up right where you left off when they return. Talk to parents and encourage them to keep kids moving at home, too.


Try these strategies:


1. Move it indoors, but keep it moving

Visit an indoor roller skating rink, a bowling alley or an indoor (heated!) pool.


2. Take a class

During the break, try a new type of physical activity, such as martial arts, yoga or dance. Many gyms or studios will let you try a class for free or at a discounted rate.


3. Start dancing

When you start to feel the itch, turn up the music and let loose in your living room. Dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up, while also having fun.


With the right planning and commitment, kids can be just as active in the winter months as they are throughout the rest of the year. Remember, consistency is key when you’re creating habits, so bundle up and show your students how it’s done!

For more ideas, visit the Alliance’s Training Center for resources, on-demand trainings and interactive communities where you can ask questions and trade ideas with other school leaders and school health experts.


Sean Brock is a National Physical Activity/Physical Education Advisor at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.