Keep the Winter Blues Away with Indoor Play!

When the weather outside is frightful, kids with abounding energy can be less than delightful. It’s easy to turn on electronics to keep children occupied during the winter months, but lack of physical activity can lead to cranky behavior and unhealthy habits.

According to the Obesity Action Coalition, more than 40 percent of children watch two or more hours of television each day, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 17 percent of children in the U.S. ages 2-19 are considered obese. Whether families feel like staying home or need to cure cabin fever by venturing out, here are some easy ways to stay active indoors in cold, winter months.

1. Turn up the music.

One of the most popular party games, Freeze Dance, is always a hit, and there are lots of variations you can do to keep it fun for kids. Play some of their favorite music, try different dance styles or find new dance styles on YouTube. Add variations to the game such as calling out a color when the music stops and having children run to touch that color in the room. Other adaptations could include finding shapes or objects that start with certain letters.

For those looking to cure cabin fever, take your children to move and groove at a local concert just for kids. Jammin’ Java in Vienna features tot rock shows for little ones during the week and attracts national children’s artists for weekend performances.

2. Enroll in an indoor activity or sport that focuses on physical activity.

Many area malls, such as the new Springfield Town Center, offer free indoor play space.

In addition, kids’ gyms such as Gymboree (multiple locations in the DMV) offer free trial classes, and some have enrollment specials around the New Year. It’s a great time to try something new. Michelle Dannan, co-owner of My Gym Burke says, “Starting in the weeks after Christmas, our business definitely increases. We start seeing a lot of parents coming in begging us to wear their kids out since it’s too cold for them to play outside. That’s also about the time that some of those new toys they got for the holidays have broken or they’ve lost interest in them. But there are lots of fun things you can do inside, and our programs gain strength, balance, coordination, agility and flexibility while developing social skills, confidence and self-esteem.”

3. Jump for joy.

The Washington region has an abundance of indoor places where bouncing off the walls is encouraged. Popular venues include bounce house meccas such as Sport Bounce of Loudoun, Monkey Joe’s (Dulles), Bounce U (Rockville), Joyful Jumps (Bowie), or House of Bounce (Manassas). Older children love touching the sky at indoor trampoline parks like Rebounderz (Sterling and Manassas), Flight Trampoline Park (Springfield), or Sky Zone (Columbia and Timonium).

4. Have an “ice” day.

Ice-skating burns almost twice as many calories as walking alone, and there’s no risk of frostbite at an indoor rink. Although it takes some practice, ice-skating is an activity that the whole family can enjoy, and rinks have skates to rent in every size. Take a trek to one of the D.C. region’s great indoor rinks like Washington Harbour Ice Rink (D.C.), Kettler Capital Ice Plex (Arlington), Wheaton Ice Arena (Wheaton), or Ashburn Ice House (Ashburn). Many of the rinks also have children’s lessons and special family-friendly events throughout the year.

5. Climb to new heights.

Jessica Lewis at SportRock states, “Rock climbing is the perfect sport for kids because it increases self-confidence and teaches responsibility, trust and problem-solving skills, all while building strong, healthy bodies. D.C. area rock-climbing sites include SportRock (Alexandria and Sterling), Earth Treks (Columbia, Rockville and Timonium) and Vertical Rock Climbing Center (Manassas).

Younger children can practice their climbing skills at age-appropriate venues such as Chibis Indoor Playground (Ashburn), Kid Junction (Chantilly), or PB and Jack (Fairfax).

There are many great, easy ways for Washington-area families to stay active indoors this winter. Remember, parents, put down your lattes, get off the sidelines, and be sure to join in the fun too!

Micaela Williamson is a professional family writer, author and blogger at Kid Trips (www.gokidtrips.com). She enjoys staying active through travel and hiking and has even been known to bust a move with her kids at the trampoline park. She lives in Fairfax, VA, with her wonderful husband and two sons.

About WF Staff

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