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Stay active this season

We all know winter in Oregon can be long and dreary, and this year we're faced with extra challenges. But there are creative ways to get exercise this season, both indoors and out.

As the weather forces us indoors for most of the next few months, families will have to get creative when helping children and teens get enough exercise.

There’s a saying in Oregon: “If you wait for it to stop raining, you’ll never get anything done.” The same can be said for making the most of the fall and winter months. In most years we might cozy up inside at the faintest drizzle, but since March, we’re all getting a little fatigued with the indoors.

Fresh air is good for you, cold weather does not make you sick, and current findings about disease transmission suggest that outside may be one of the healthiest places to be.

This year, think about spending time outside in weather that you might ordinarily avoid. A little sprinkle never hurt anyone. Bundle up, mask up and back up from others at least 6 feet. Find a well-lit park or neighborhood and make a regular walking or bicycling routine for as long as Mother Nature will comfortably allow.

Of course, there are times when the weather can make outdoor excursions nearly impossible (or at least uncomfortable) for some weeks at a time. With indoor gyms and trampoline parks facing restrictions or closure, you may feel more comfortable letting your kids get their wiggles out at home. The good news is, you don’t need a lot of space to keep them active.

For younger children, most activities can be accomplished by pushing a coffee table aside and opening up a safe area to get moving. Try these activities:

  • Have a dance party. Set a time every day, such as when kids are done with online school, to bust some moves. Let the kids pick the music and join in. They might even teach you the latest dance.

  • Play volleyball with a balloon, for an inexpensive, indoor, and furniture-safe alternative of the game. Make sure the area is clear of sharp edges, and see how long you can volley the balloon back and forth.

  • Play video games. No, not that type of video game; the kind of video games that encourage movement through dance or by simulating sports (tennis, baseball, etc.) Alternatively, search your local cable listings for kid-centered exercise programs.

  • Stick to gym class classics. Remember hula hoops? They’re a great activity in the living room, in the garage or carport and help kids burn off some energy. Jumping jacks also get the blood moving and don’t require a lot of space to do.

Older children and teens may have interests that more closely align with adults. Talk to your kids and see if there is something you can do together or as a family, such as:

  • Set up a home gym. With a bit of planning and a little luck, you can set up a decent home gym in a spare room, carport or garage. Used exercise equipment can often be found at reasonable prices on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. If lifting weights, be sure to receive some instruction beforehand to avoid injury.

  • Group exercise without the group. Invest in some exercise DVDs (yoga, cardio, etc.) and see which ones are most enjoyable. You can find DVDs at thrift stores or the library (curbside service is available at most libraries). Also, some cable channels offer exercise programs you can record.

  • With kids in front of the computer so much, and now for school as well, it’s important to carve out specific time for the exercise they would normally get in the course of their day. Keeping active will contribute to their overall well-being and help the entire family navigate the winter months.


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