Cabin fever

Posted: December 26, 2014

Winter weather often makes both adults and children feel less than active, while research says people should get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. So how can this happen in the winter? How can adults be positive role models for children? They can take short, ten to fifteen minute exercise breaks throughout the day.

What does that look like? At home, children and adults can play a sock matching and folding game. They can make it a relay race. They can toss the socks around the room, and place a basket at one end of the room. Adults and children run around to find socks that match, and then toss the pair into the basket. Everyone has fun, gets some exercise, and the socks get matched. To add some extra challenge and movement, two people hold the ends of a towel with the pair of socks on it, and work together to bounce or toss the socks across the room into the basket.

If there are stairs available, each person can choose a stair and do a step-step up and a step-step down (step first one foot, then step the other). After ten or fifteen repetitions, try twenty or so jumping jacks, then twenty lunges on each leg.

For the next round of short exercise time, adult and child (or child and child) sit on the floor each holding one end of a towel, facing each other with their feet touching. As they sing a favorite song, they pull back and forth, bending from the hips like rowing a boat. After the boat trip, they jog (in place) to a picnic spot. But to get there after the jog, they must go around the trees that have fallen (chairs) and through the mountain tunnel (under a table) to the picnic spot. If the food is not ready yet they must shake it, stir it, and pound it to get it ready. This is a good time to talk about making healthy choices by including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in the imaginary lunch.

For the last fifteen minute exercise segment, exercisers need paper plates, socks, a beach ball, and a box. The paper plates become ice skates and can be used to skate in different patterns around the house or room. Afterward, the same paper plates can become targets for the rolled socks using an underhand throw. After throwing practice, the plates can become a hopscotch pattern to practice jumping and hopping, then, using a crab position on the floor, children and adults can kick a beach ball around the paper plate targets and into a box.

Healthy habits are learned, and parents play an important role in helping children learn those healthy habits. The earlier these habits become part of the child’s life, the better, and using short bouts of activity can help to get children and adults physically fit. It’s never too late to improve eating habits and become more active!

Additional resources:

Better Kid Care Resources

"ABCs of Growing Healthy Children"
"The Basics of Caring for Children in Your Home"
"101 Snack Time Ideas"

CDs from Choosykids
Click on “Read more” under the music section and then the arrow beside these song titles to listen to the music:

"I’m Moving, I’m Learning"
"This Is My Body"

Fact Sheet for Kids Growing Up Healthy
Download the (pdf) resource for activities that increase physical activity.

FIT Activities for Kids
Download a booklet filled with ideas for playing actively every day.

Help Materials from CityWEB
Under HELP materials, click on “IMIL materials” to get one page activity sheets based on the booklet Fit Activities for Kids booklet. (Available in Spanish)

Jump for Joy Book
PDF manual by USDA. Read or download a picture book that has action words and health messages. (Written by Laurie Coker, © 2005 by WIC, Department of State Health Services, Nutrition Services Section.)

Contact Information

Cynthia Pollich, MS Ed
  • Extension Associate:Food,Families & Health
Phone: 717-394-6851