Outside in the winter

Silas Ford, 7, prepares to give a hockey puck a push Feb. 28 at the 2021 World Ice Art Championships at the Tanana Valley State Fairgrounds, 1800 College Road. Silas was visiting the park with his younger brother, Theo, 5, his mom, Amy, and grandmother, Peri Kersten, who was visiting from Washington state. 

With long winters and isolation from the pandemic, this has been a tough winter on everyone, especially if you have children who you need to keep active.

When my children were little, I would frequently take them to McDonald’s to play in the play land to let them run off some steam and give me some down time with friends. 

Now, that is not a particularly good option. How can we get through the winter months with cold winter and isolation, keep our children active and not lose our sanity?

It is especially important for both adults and children to remain active. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults stay active for 30 minutes a day and that children are active for 60 minutes a day. 

Some of the risks of inactivity are Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Lack of physical activity can also contribute to higher stress levels and low energy for all household members.

Just as it is beneficial to eat family meals together, it is also important to have a family activity together. Have a designated time where you can spend time as a family playing active games together such as Twister or build forts or obstacle courses out of furniture. 

Buy some glow sticks, turn down the lights, turn up the music and have a glow stick dance party. Pick an exercise class on YouTube that everyone likes and do it together as a family. Have an indoor scavenger hunt. If you are investing in a gaming system, pick one that is movement based that encourages the family to play together and move together.

Another way to get people moving around the house is to assign chores. These can be such things as dusting, sweeping, mopping, taking out the trash or shoveling snow. Sometimes it is easier for adults to do household chores themselves and get them out of the way, but if we take the time to teach children to do chores around the house, it gets them active and it teaches lifelong skills.

As the temperatures begin to warm up, it is a great time to start bundling up and heading outside. You can build snowmen, outdoor forts and mazes in the snow. Make snow angels and have snowball fights. If you want to get crazy, put food coloring and water in spray bottles and go outside and “color” the snow. 

It is also time to take part in winter sports such as cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing.

Soon spring will be upon us and we will be able to start doing spring and summer activities, which will make it easier on everyone. 

The kids will be able to play outside and adults can move outside to garden, work on household projects, go camping, fishing, bike riding and enjoying the months of Fairbanks summer fun.

Adrian Kohrt is a family nutrition coordinator for Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions, she can be contacted at amkohrt@alaska.edu or 907-474-7930.