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How to keep your family active during the winter

Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.

Winter has arrived—bringing shorter periods of daylight, busy holiday schedules, and potentially severe weather conditions. All these elements added up can make keeping your family active more difficult.

Here are a few key things that I recommend to my patients during this time of year to help insure that their child stays in motion regardless of the total snow accumulation or last minute shopping sprees.

Keep your routine and habits

Don't stop moving! It is important to maintain the routine your family had during warmer days. If your child would go outside and play after school, keep this routine and substitute that time with another active activity such as Wii dancing or playing freeze dance as a family. It is important to maintain the habit even if your child is not active as long as she would have been playing outside. If your child had soccer practice at 6 p.m., try to continue doing something at 6 p.m. If you were able to make it work in the past, chances are that time would work now!

When starting a new activity, try to pick a time that generally works for your family and stick to that time regardless of how long you are able to do the activity for. Even 10 minutes of activity is better than none, every bit counts!

Break it up

The recommended amount of physical activity for children and adolescents is at least one hour most days of the week. This does not mean it has to be all done at once. Especially over the holidays it can be hard to get a block of unscheduled time. Try a 15 minute walk in the morning, a 15 minute activity break at lunch (even if that means a quick walk through the mall), and a 30 minute round of just dance after dinner. If it is difficult to get your child motivated to do active activities, breaking it up into 10 or 15 minutes move breaks can also help make it more manageable.

Plan Ahead

During this time of year, a lot of us find our schedules becoming double booked, finding it hard to fit in time for active activities. Spend a few minutes each morning planning out activity breaks. For some children a chart with what they are doing is helpful so they can feel accomplished when they complete the activity and it can serve as a reminder if placed somewhere everyone can see it such as on the refrigerator door. Involve your kids in the planning! This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes time to do the activity and will also help your child feel invested in what activities are done.

Find what works for your child and family

Try to explore activities that are unique to your child's interests, talents and preferences. Check out my blog tomorrow for some ideas!

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