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Top 5 Winter Sports for Children

Winter is the perfect time to explore cold-weather sports and introduce children to fun activities they can do individually or with a group.    Being outdoors has been known to decrease anxiety, stimulate the senses, and improve concentration. Not only will these winter sports help beat the winter blues, they will also help build strong muscles and bones.

Top 5 Winter Sports for Kids:

  1. Snowshoeing-Easy to learn, with little risk of injury, and relatively inexpensive, snowshoeing has been gaining popularity in recent years. It is a great cardiovascular exercise, and hiking through the snow burns more calories than regular hiking. The resistance provided by the snow and the balance required to walk will strengthen core and leg muscles. There are different types of snowshoes based on skill level and terrain.
  2. Skiing-Both cross-country skiing and downhill skiing have many health benefits.  Downhill skiing uses short bouts of energy and cross-country skiing is more of an endurance sport. Both types of skiing work our major core muscles and large muscle groups including the abdominals, the glutes, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and biceps/triceps. Skiing also improves our balance skills on variable terrain and helps train our postural muscles.
  3. Skating-Skating is a sport that provides something for everyone. Between speed skating, recreational skating, and figure skating, this is an activity that one can participate in as an individual or group. Skating is a low-impact exercise that trains balance, agility, speed, muscle endurance, lower body strength, and flexibility. It teaches kids about weight-shifting, grading their movements, and the stability required to balance on one foot, which is important in their gross motor development.
  4. Snowboarding-In a sense, snowboarding is like surfing on snow.  It requires snowboarders to use their quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calf muscles to steer the board and use their abdominals to control their balance.  Getting up and down from the snow is an exercise in itself for young children. Snowboarding is a great core exercise and kids become more aware of their body mechanics as they advance their skills on challenging terrain.
  5. Hockey-Ice hockey is a high-intensity sport that builds teamwork, strength, coordination, balance, endurance, and agility. It challenges little bodies and minds by incorporating skating skills with running skills and hand-eye coordination tasks. Click here to read about more benefits of hockey!

So bundle up, put on protective gear, and head outside for some fresh air. Winter sports are healthy, fun, and promote quality time outdoors for you and your family.


Health Benefits of Hockey for Kids

Many parents often ask me about the best sport to enroll their children in during the winter time. Hockeythe health benefits of hockey always comes high on my list of recommendations. Children as young as 5 years old can participate and benefit from this total body work out.

Health Benefits of Hockey:

Endurance

Hockey is a high-intensity sport that has many cardiovascular benefits. Between bouts of running, skating, and bouts of rests, kids are participating in interval training without even realizing it. High-intensity interval training has been known to boost aerobic capacity, energy levels, and metabolism. Read more

Why Hockey is A Great Game to Teach Your Child

Not only is hockey enjoyable to watch for entertainment purposes, hockey is also a perfect gross motor and extracurricular activity Little boy playing hockeythat will get your child involved with his peers. Team sports incorporate many different skill sets and help your child follow the guidance and leadership of another adult (i.e. the coach).

Below are some examples of skills that hockey could address for your child:

  • Balance: Skating requires a significant amount of balance and trunk control. as ice can prove to be an unstable surface. In addition, there are thin blades to support their entire body weight.
  • Hand-eye coordination: Being able to control the puck in order to pass it onto teammates as well as shoot the puck into the net accurately and effectively (without getting it taken away by opponents).
  • Bilateral skills: Using both hands together in order to control and carry the hockey stick.
  • Timing and sequencing: Being able to anticipate where the puck will land as well as understanding where your opponents will be on the ice and moving accordingly.
  • Teamwork: Working together to work towards one purpose, rather than working independently.
  • Safety awareness and body awareness: Being able to avoid getting checked by opponents as well as being able to maneuver safely on skates and avoiding the puck (e.g. getting hit in face by puck).

As you can see, hockey is not only a great form of exercise and a way for your child to meet new friends, it also helps your child improve many skills that are needed throughout daily life. Feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher, occupational therapist or physical therapist to see if hockey or other gross motor activities would be encouraged for your child. Stay tuned for my next blog about why skiing is a great gross motor activity for children. Go Blackhawks!