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This is How to Keep Kids Active in the Winter

This is How to Keep Kids Active in the Winter

Whether your family likes to be outdoors in the cold weather or prefers to stay inside, there are plenty of ways to keep kids active in the winter months.

During the short, cold, dreary days of winter, parents and kids alike are tempted to just hunker down for the duration. But winter doesn’t have to mean your kids turn into video-game zombies or couch potatoes—there are plenty of ways to keep kids active in the winter months.

Children ages 6-17 should do at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, according to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (yes, even in the winter months). But less than one-quarter of American children meet these guidelines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even in the frigid temperatures of winter, there are plenty of creative ways to keep kids active, both indoors and outdoors. Parents just need to get a bit creative to find them. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you.

How to Keep Kids Active in the Winter Outdoors

In other cultures, it’s much more common for children to play outdoors during the coldest of temperatures. With this year’s COVID-19 situation, some schools have been holding classes entirely outdoors, with strategies in place to keep kids warm and safe in the cold temperatures.

There’s a saying that there is no inclimate weather, only inappropriate clothing. Almost any day can be an outdoor playday with the right winter clothing and gear.

Go for a Hike

Hiking is an easy, active family activity that can be done well into the winter. There are some beautiful family-friendly hiking trails in NYC and the surrounding suburbs. When there’s been a light snow, your children will feel like they are in a Winter Wonderland. At the very least, you can go for a family walk around the neighborhood.

Enjoy Winter Sporting Activities

Urban areas aren’t usually thought of as prime places for snow sports, but there are actually several opportunities to play and exercise in New York City and the surrounding areas.

Have Fun in the Backyard

When there’s snow on the ground, put on your warm cold-weather gear and get outside for some simple snowy fun!

  • Build a snowman, snow animal, or other snowy sculpture!

  • Have a good, old-fashioned snowball fight (just make sure to set some ground rules to avoid injuries)!

  • Lay back and make snow angels.

  • Hand your kids a shovel to help clear the driveway. Okay, so this isn’t fun, per se, but you can promise them that fun will happen once the snow is cleared.

Go maple sugaring in February!

There's a reason why maple syrup is called liquid gold! Head out to a farm for a maple sugaring event in the late winter/early spring. Your family will trek out to see how maple trees are tapped, and many events will give you taste tests of the sugary treat!

How to Keep Kids Active in the Winter Indoors

If staying inside is more your speed during the winter months, here are some ideas to keep kids active indoors:

Swim in an indoor pool.

While the city’s recreation center’s indoor pools are currently closed due to COVID-19, some indoor pools (like Asphalt Green and Sportspark Swimming Pool on Roosevelt Island) are open with safety restrictions in place for both free swims and lessons. Call your local indoor pool to see if it’s open.

Host a stair climbing challenge.

Take advantage of one of the unique aspects of city living and challenge each other to see who can climb the most stairs in your high-rise building, or see how many times your kids can go up and down the stairs in your house (if you have multiple stories).

Play balloon volleyball.

You’ll be shocked at how delighted children are with a simple balloon to play with indoors. It can serve as a “ball” for all kinds of games, without wrecking your home or bonking anyone.

Create an indoor gym.

Turn a doorway or even a corner into an indoor jungle gym or swing set.

Work on mastering balance.

Children of all ages love perfecting their balance and often incorporate balance boards, balance beams, or stepping stones into their imaginative play.

Bounce around (if you have room).

Hopping Balls are excellent indoor toys for encouraging activity.

Spin the afternoon away.

You’ll be amazed at how long and how often a kid will spin on a Sit and Spin.

Have a Hula-Hoop competition.

Hula Hoops are classic toys for a very good reason. Kids love them and parents may even use one to sneak in a workout.

Jump, jump, jump!

Jump ropes can be used solo or with several children for double dutch.

Walk a tightrope (don’t worry, it’s close to the ground!)

An indoor slackline is a perfect physical challenge.

Crawl through tunnels and play in ball pits.

Small children love to climb and play in tunnels and ball pits. Most can be easily folded up for storage.

Tire them out with jumping.

Some indoor trampolines are foldable and have a weight limit that allows grownups to join in on the fun, too!

Flow through some yoga poses.

Check out one of our favorite YouTube Channels for compelling and fun kid’s stories told through yoga.

Stream some online exercise videos.

These virtual fitness classes and kids exercise videos will keep kids active and give you an opportunity to workout as a family.

Play some video games (really!).

If you absolutely can’t steer your kids away from their gaming systems, make sure they’re playing fitness games to keep them active. Common Sense Media recommends these kid-friendly workout games for Wii, Xbox, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, and more.

Set up an obstacle course.

Using some (or all) of the above suggestions, create an indoor obstacle course so your kids can have a friendly competition. It’ll just keep them active and having fun!

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Jennifer Weedon Palazzo


Jennifer Weedon Palazzo is a writer, actor, video producer, and the founder of, an online network of award-winning comedy videos for parents. She lives with her husband and two very spirited children.

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