We all know that exercise is important, but this time of year it is a lot easier to bundle up in a blanket and watch television than to venture out in the cold weather for some physical activity. However, studies show that walking or doing moderate exercise for just 30 minutes a day can help maintain a healthy body weight and improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels – and those benefits are for moms, dads and kids alike.
Take inspiration from this active family.
Cathy Dilbeck from Hammond has two children ages 6 and 4, and she makes sure they have ample opportunity to stay active all year round.
“My husband Dave and I were athletes growing up and our parents kept us involved in a lot of youth programs. We are still very active today - exercising every day and playing adult sports,” Cathy Dilbeck said.
In the winter, the Dilbeck family participates in organized activities such as swim lessons and youth basketball leagues and also makes time as a family to shoot hoops during open gym or take the kids swimming during open swim at the Hammond Family YMCA. Cathy advised other families to “take advantage of youth programs that are available at your Y and parks departments. Some programs start as young as three years old – not just to teach sport skills but to keep kids active and help them build social skills.”
Keeping kids of all ages active.
When the weather is bad, it’s time to get creative with what you have around the house. Alina Kilarski from Crown Point rigged up a swing in her house for her younger kids ages 2, 5 and 7.
“It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, we always find time for active play,” Kilarski said.
Other NWI moms suggested hula hooping, pulling the cars out of the garage and letting the kids use that open space for jump rope or Frisbee, or building an obstacle course in the basement or living room.
If you have older kids, consider setting a family workout goal such as exercising together twice a week. Or step up to a family challenge – perhaps a local 5K – and train for it as a family. Pick something that you can do together, and it will be easier to keep each other motivated.
Don’t be afraid to get outside!
Region residents all have their favorite sledding hills but there’s more to do in NWI in the winter. Bundle up and get ready for some fun!
- Many Northwest Indiana parks departments have seasonal ice rinks and some are even free if you have your own skates. Call your local parks department for availability. Deep River Water park is another regional option and, with refrigerated ice, one that is available even in slightly warmer temps. Ice is available Thursday-Sunday until Feb. 29.
- Park naturalists at Indiana Dunes State Park lead winter hikes on the dunes and in the park’s wooded areas. Children are welcome and some of the hikes include fun activities like putting out food for animals or bird banding. Check out their website for a monthly calendar of events – most are free to the public.
- Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso has a variety of hiking trails and is open seven days a week all winter. If you have snowshoes or cross country skies, call and see if there is enough snow to use their trails.
Staying active in the winter months can be a challenge, but it’s one with many rewards: family bonding, improved health, higher energy levels, better moods—it’s worth the extra effort to keep your family up and moving. If you can get started now, it will already be a healthy habit that’s easy to continue once the weather turns warm.
As Cathy Dilbeck notes, “I just want to remind parents how much our kids feed off everything we do. If the parents live a healthy lifestyle all year long the kids are sure to follow in their footsteps!” Start a healthy lifestyle today and your entire family will reap the benefits tomorrow.