Cold-Weather Activities To Do With Your Grandchild
Staying active is important at any age, but it’s also a little more difficult for everyone when winter comes around. In parts of the world that experience the best – and worst – of all four seasons every year, winter may be among the hardest. For older adults, this is especially true, and maintaining their good health despite colder temperatures is simultaneously more important and more challenging than average.
However, if you’re lucky enough to be a grandparent, staying active, healthy and happy all year long isn’t hard at all. Spending time with your grandchild partaking in one of many cold-weather activities is the perfect solution to the winter doldrums, helping build a stronger bond along with a stronger mind and body as a bonus.
Cold weather safety for older adults
As a group, grandparents today are a diverse bunch. While they may each be unified in their role as grandparents, they don’t fit well into any group based on age, health or lifestyle. Still, it’s important to remember that as we age, the priorities and risks related to our health change in many ways. According to Harvard Medical School, winter weather tends to exert particularly strong influence over the health of older adults for a variety of reasons:
- Hypothermia, a condition caused by dangerously low body temperature, is a greater risk for older adults compared to the average person. As we age, our bodies tend to retain less heat, making us more sensitive to cold.
- Cold and flu season tends to peak during the winter, in part because more people stay inside where diseases may spread more easily. This may mean an increased health risk for older people as their immune systems may not be as strong.
- Snow and ice presents a danger to anyone walking around, but for older adults, the risk of falling is higher in these conditions. It may also take longer for bruises or fractures to heal as we age.
- In any season, it’s important for older adults to make an effort to keep their mind active, too. Cold weather doesn’t make our brains any less functional, but our motivation and energy tends to suffer during the winter no matter how old we are.
In general, older people need to keep a closer eye on their activity and energy levels, as well as their overall health, than young adults or children would. It’s harder to match the strength and endurance of our grandchildren the older we get, not to mention the colder it is outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plenty of activities with your grandchild throughout the winter.
Playing with infants and toddlers
Balance – in our movement and our daily lives – is a core principle of health at any age. While your infant or toddler grandchild might still be getting the hang of walking, don’t forget that adults can benefit from some balancing practice, too.
- As your infant or toddler grandchild moves around your home to play or explore, move around with them. Take the opportunity to practice simple balancing or stretching whenever possible, like when squatting or bending down to reach a toy. Still, remember to be gentle and not force your body into serious discomfort.
- One easy way to incorporate balance exercise into your daily routine: Try standing with one foot in front of the other for a minute, or with your feet together. See if you can get your toddler to mimic your movement and practice right alongside you.
Activities for older children
As your grandchildren get older, there are even more ways to help each other stay active and have fun despite miserable winter weather:
- Try practicing basic yoga or tai chi with your grandchildren. Both forms of exercise focus on relaxed movement and improving balance. Using online guides or videos, or with the help of an instructor, you can find many easy beginner poses or movements to practice together.
- If bad weather has you stuck inside, create a treasure hunt together. Try hiding toys or treats in different spots around the house and come up with clues for finding them.
- If you or your grandchild has a video game system based on movement, like the Nintendo Wii Fit, Xbox Kinect or PlayStation Move, you can probably find plenty of games to enjoy together that will keep you both active at the same time.
Being a grandparent is fun all year, and the excitement doesn’t need to end just because it’s cold outside. If you do venture out into the winter weather, make sure you are both bundled up and ready to explore.