The icy conditions, biting winds, and lower-than-we’d-like winter temps means the bulk of our time over the next couple of months will be spent inside. And while it can be great to snuggle up and watch a movie as a family, the long days indoors can also pose some health challenges. (Everyone with the flu? Not fun!) Here are some easy ways to stay healthy when you have to stay in:
Fight dry, indoor air:
“Dry air can lead to several issues,” says Zarana R. Swarup, M.D. a pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). These may include eczema flare-ups and nosebleeds, and it can even make it tougher for kids to get over common colds, she says. If your child suffers from eczema, which can worsen in winter, Swarup recommends using mild products while bathing and keeping the lukewarm baths or showers short. Plus: Be sure to moisturize skin at least twice a day, if possible. Nosebleeds a problem? “If your child is prone to nosebleeds, prevention is the key,” Swarup says. “Make sure that your child does not pick his/her nose and keep the inner nose moist. This may include considering the use of saline nasal sprays or water gels to keep the area moist.” And to help your child shake off a cold, try a humidifier. “Using a humidifier will help increase water in the air, which, when breathed in, will help moisten your child’s airways,” Swarup advises. “Moist air helps loosen mucous clogging the lungs, making it easier to breathe well.” Don’t forget to clean it regularly to prevent mold and bacteria growth. Learn more about humidifiers and other stay-healthy gadgets from the KIWI College webinar on cold and flu season
Avoid an entire sick house:
If your daughter is coughing, two days later it’s likely your sons will start, too. Sound like scenario at your house? The simplest tip for keeping a cold or flu confined to one family member at a time: hand washing, says Swarup. “It is especially important not to share things like food and utensils/cups with those who are sick or to touch tissues used by those who are sick,” she says. Another tip: Teach kids to cough into their elbows to avoid spreading germs from hand-to-hand contact, Swarup advises. She recommends good-for-you habits like getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and eating a balanced diet to keep the whole family’s immune system in top shape.
Keep them moving:
While kids may want to spend the day in the front of the TV or playing video games, it’s still essential that they get in some exercise. “Current recommendations state that all children should try to get about one hour of physical activity a day,” says Swarup. “When there is unfriendly weather outside, it is important to come up with creative ways to keep children entertained indoors. One of the best ways to do this is organize fun games inside, like playing tag in the basement, catch indoors with a soft ball, or hide-and-seek through out the house.” Small space? Try dancing or jumping rope, she suggests.