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Take an Active Winter Break

Health Notes Archives - Click HereEven if they have phys-ed classes at school, many kids don't come close to the 60 minutes of daily exercise now recommended for children. During winter break, when the inclination might be to stay indoors and "veg out," this is even more of a challenge.

The key to keeping your kids active, says Debi Pillarella of the American Council on Exercise (ACE), is creativity. She suggests offering your kids a choice between two or three activities - such as taking a walk, playing ball or riding bikes. "The bottom line is that it's got to be fun," she says.

Generally, winter weather shouldn't stand in your way. Even if it's cold, Pillarella says, "getting outside is excellent. There are a lot of great winter activities that the whole family can enjoy." Consider ice-skating, skiing or walks in the woods or along a deserted beach.

When the weather really turns nasty, you can often find activities through your local YMCA, Boys & Girls Club or other community organizations. Or try bowling or indoor skating rinks. Pillarella also suggests creating a space at home with tools for being active: jump ropes, beanbags, Frisbee™, handball.

And to make sure your kids are actually looking for something to do, Pillarella recommends limiting TV and other sedentary activities to a total of two hours per day. For more fun ideas, check out www.acefitness.org, or look for The Family Fitness Fun Book, by Rose R. Kennedy (Hatherleigh Press, 2005).

- Christina Elston is the contributing health editor for United Parenting Publications. Read more health tips and updates in our Health Notes Archives.

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