10 tips on how to keep children healthy and active during winter

There is plenty to do this winter to keep your child busy. l SUPPLIED

There is plenty to do this winter to keep your child busy. l SUPPLIED

Published May 30, 2024


Winter is on its way and this season is usually a time when youngsters remain indoors and physical activity tends to slow down.

But Affinity Health believes that with the right strategies and some creativity, children can remain active and healthy during the colder months

Here is the health coverage provider’s CEO Murray Hewlett’s advice on how kids can make the most of winter.

1. Embrace outdoor play

It might be cooler during winter but children can still spend time outdoors as this can improve their mood and energy levels.

“Spending time outdoors also ensures your child is exposed to natural sunlight, which is crucial as it helps the body produce vitamin D, an essential nutrient that supports bone health and boosts the immune system,” Hewlett said.

2. Create indoor exercise opportunities

Kids can still move their bodies indoors and Hewlett suggested getting them active inside by doing things like setting up a mini obstacle course, hosting a dance party or engaging in active games like hide-and-seek or indoor scavenger hunts.

“Look for fun and interactive exercise videos or games explicitly designed for children to get their hearts pumping and muscles moving.”

3. Prioritise nutritious meals

It is vital to keep a child's immune system strong during winter in order to prevent colds, flu and other respiratory infections.

As a robust immune system starts with nutrition, he suggested that parents and caregivers incorporate hearty, nutrient-dense foods into meals.

This includes root vegetables, dark leafy greens and seasonal fruits packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

4. Stay hydrated

Hewlett said that as colder weather naturally decreases the body's perspiration rate, this could reduce the sensation of thirst.

“You should keep your child hydrated throughout the day by offering water, herbal teas or warm soups to help keep them hydrated,” Hewlett said.

5. Get enough sleep

Their mood can be negatively affected by winter’s shorter daylight hours but adequate sleep can help regulate a child's emotions which contributes to better mental health during these darker months.

He suggested creating a relaxing and consistent bedtime routine.

“Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps stabilise circadian rhythms, making it easier for children to fall asleep at night and wake up refreshed.”

6. Encourage hand hygiene

Germs are known to spread through dirty hands, so youngsters should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.

This should be done by scrubbing them for at least 20 seconds before meals, after using the bathroom and after coughing or sneezing.

“For times when soap and water aren't handy, make sure they have access to hand sanitiser.”

7. Dress children warmly during winter

Ensure your child is dressed appropriately for winter by layering clothing to trap heat close to the body and ensure that they are wearing hats, gloves, a scarf and boots on the colder days.

“Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and consider packing an extra jersey in your child's school bag,” he said.

8. Foster indoor creativity

Inspire your mind to be creative by providing artistic expression, storytelling and imaginative play opportunities.

Hewlett suggested setting up a crafting station with supplies for painting, drawing, or crafting seasonal decorations.

“You should motivate your child to create games, plays, or stories to keep their minds engaged,” he said.

9. Limit screen time

While some screen time may be inevitable during winter, prioritise activities that promote physical activity, creativity and social interaction.

He recommended encouraging your child to take breaks from screens to engage in active play or to spend time outdoors.

10. Lead by example

Parents and caregivers can be a positive role model by demonstrating healthy habits such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and practising proper hygiene.

“Involve the whole family in activities that promote health and well-being,” he said.