Ensuring kids get enough exercise in every season

Dr. Julie Boman

Photo: Samara Postuma, on behalf of Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota,

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We all know that kids need exercise, but how much exercise should kids be getting and how do we ensure they are getting enough when those too cold (or too hot) to play outside days come around? Dr. Julie Boman, a pediatrician here at Children’s, has some tips and ideas to share on making sure kids are getting the full 60 minutes a day of the exercise they need.

It’s important to note that while all kids need 60 minutes of exercise, the way that looks for your preschooler and the way that looks for your middle-schooler might be different.

“Younger kids need frequent bursts of activity versus an hour of activity straight, where an older child can get their exercise by being active for an hour,” said Dr. Boman.

So what about those days – those miserably, cold days – where it’s deemed unsafe for kids to play outside? Or, as we dream of warmer days, those hot, summer days where the heat index is so high, it’s dangerously hot for kids to be outside?

Well, according to Dr. Boman, it’s time to get creative.

Some of the more obvious options to get your kids active would be indoor parks, community centers, YMCAs, parks and recreation centers. Most of which will offer special extended hours on the days that outside play might be limited.

“Younger kids just need a space to run,” Dr. Boman mentioned, noting that this is when an unfinished basement can come in handy.

You don’t have to get too crazy to get kids active though – games like hide and seek, building forts and even cleaning the house can get kids active and exercising.

The only time you’ll hear Dr. Boman suggest video games is when it comes to moving your body versus your thumbs and there are plenty of games out there that do just that.

“Dancing games on the Wii are a good workout even for adults,” she said.

Another more creative way to get kids active is by looking for active apps or videos such as the IronKids App which was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is available for iPhone or iPad for $3.99. The app has several different workouts for both cardio and core and kids can follow the app for five minute bursts of circuit training and weight lifting using household items.

Don’t have a smart phone or tablet? No problem. A simple YouTube search will bring you thousands of work out videos for both kids and adults.

“It’s all about exploring ways to keep kids interested,” Dr. Boman said.

What are your tried and true ways to keep your kids active and exercising all year round?

Bonus: This morning, the TODAY Show ran a story about the America’s Healthiest Cities. The Zumba class shown in the segment was part of Vida Sana, a partnership between Children’s and HealthPartners working to address obesity among Latino children and families in Minneapolis. Vida Sana is the brainchild of Dr. Boman and her colleagues here at Children’s.

The Star Tribune profiled Vida Sana last August.

For more information about Vida Sana, you can contact Dr. Julie Boman at julie.boman@childrensmn.org. For more information about Children’s childhood obesity efforts, contact Anna Youngerman at anna.youngerman@childrensmn.org.

Samara Postuma is a freelance writer. Her five kids range in age from 7 months to almost 15. When she is not busy driving kids to school and activities, taking care of baby or teaching her second grader, she writes and works in social media. She blogs at http://simplicityinthesuburbs.com. She can also be found on Twitter.

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