If you live in a rainy place like I do, you’ve experienced days where everyone in the house is restless. It’s hard to exercise outdoors when it’s rainy, especially if it’s windy and cold as well. Children need to be active no matter what the weather.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends children and teens get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days -- even rainy days. To make this happen, here are six ideas to keep your family moving when the weather isn’t cooperating.
1. Have a dance party
This is a favorite in our house. We turn on the tunes and dance away our rainy day blues. Create a playlist beforehand, with everyone choosing a few favorite songs, or choose a digital streaming service like Pandora or Spotify. You can also use the radio, CDs, records or your own music from a piano or other instrument.
Small children may like to dance with props like shakers and scarves. Older children enjoy seeing their parents show off their dance moves, and adults will be surprised how much energy it takes to keep dancing!
2. Make an indoor obstacle course
Your obstacle course could include crawling through tunnels or boxes, jumping rope, throwing balls into a makeshift hoop, climbing over a mountain of pillows and somersaulting to the finish line. Creating the obstacle course together will be as fun as trying it out. Make sure each obstacle is safe and at an appropriate skill level for the children participating. You may need to have modifications for younger children.
3. Set up a circuit
Teach your children how to do basic exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, toe touches, and hopping on one leg. Older children can be taught simple weight lifting moves, such as bicep curls, with light weights. Set up a circuit with one exercise for each family member. Rotate through the circuit, with one minute on each exercise. Be sure to use positive words and encourage your children. Small children may lack the coordination to do these exercises properly, but they can still participate.
4. Play an active video game
Most video game consoles, like Wii or Xbox, offer active games to play. Wii Fit and Kinect Sports are two examples. These games simulate sports like basketball, bowling, tennis and baseball. They also have recreational sports like skiing, martial arts and balance games. There are also dance-based video games like the Just Dance series on Wii, which offer fitness options.
5. Work a fitness video together
If you do not have any fitness videos in your home, libraries offer them for loan, and there are several available online. I borrowed a children’s yoga video from our library, and my kids had a fun time learning the poses, which were adapted for children. Now we often have short yoga sessions that promote flexibility, balance, and focus.
6. Brave the rain
If the rain is light, put on your boots and coats, and head out for a rainy day walk. Kids can’t resist jumping in puddles, and you can enjoy the fresh rain-scented air. If you return home wetter than you expected, warm up with a healthy snack like popcorn.
Don’t let bad weather keep you or your children from being active. The next time it’s rainy and the kids are restless, try one of these indoor exercise ideas. By the time you’re done, you’ll feel better inside and out, and your children will be on their way to a lifetime of good exercise habits.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.