Although we're all stuck inside, there's no reason we should let COVID-19 stop us from making our children’s fitness a priority. Not only is burning off energy and staying active crucial for their well-being, but it will keep them (and you) from bouncing off the walls and prevent cabin fever.
Socially isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic isn't easy for anyone, and that's especially true for kids. Instead of recess, after-school activities and play dates to keep children active, they now have little more to enjoy than the confines of their own home. It’s our job as parent to redirect our kids’ energy to activities they can enjoy from the safety of home or surrounding areas. If we do, it can lead to healthy habits that will endure longer than the pandemic
The Importance of Keeping Kids Active
When going through these uncertain times caused by the novel coronavirus, exercise may be the furthest thing on your mind to add to your family to-do list. But keeping fit can do wonders for both kids' physical and mental health, experts agree. The World Health Organization recommends children and adolescents be active for a minimum of 60 minutes a day, which studies show not only contributes to physical health but also provides brain benefits like increased ability to focus on schoolwork, better sleep patterns and improvement in the ability to balance emotions and stress.
Make Recess a Priority
With most schools on an indefinite break, homeschooling has become the new normal for kids. That likely means they no longer have a fun-filled recess break with friends at school where physical activity comes easy. Still, breaking up homeschooling days with some fresh air and activity times can do wonders for kids and parents alike.
The American Heart Association suggests at least two 30-minute “recess” breaks throughout the day looking for opportunities that are unique to your child and your environment. Think of fun and easy activities like a bike ride, playing tag or simply having a catch together.
Staying Active Inside
If your home space is limited, don't think that means exercise has to be limited, too. There are a ton of ways to keep kids active (and having fun) while quarantining in a confined space, even when you can't get outside. The good part is that most families are in similar situations, so you can lean on each other to find creative ways to stay active. For instance, the annual Walking 4 Friendship Circle 3K has gone virtual this year and is scheduled for May 3. Walk alone, with the family, or even indoors to participate and help a good cause (Friendship Circle) while being active. If you flex your creative muscles, you’ll find ways to flex your physical muscles and keep kids active, engaged and entertained indoors. Try the following:
- Try kids yoga. If you have access, YouTube has several fun videos for kids yoga. If not, give the kids 5 stretches and set a 20-second timer for each move. Repeat your “flow” 3 times for a few minutes of active calm.
- Have a hula hoop contest. If you have supplies at home, see who can keep their hoop up the longest. We promise this will be fun for the whole family, and the laughs will keep you energized long after the fun.
- Play freeze dance. This one is seriously easy. Crank some tunes, and get the whole family moving. Pause the music every few seconds, and tell the room to freeze! Anyone who doesn’t freeze gets to do 5 jumping jacks.
- Use online resources. Virtual resources like GoNoodle are full of games and activities to get kids’ bodies moving and brains working, as well as free resources to support families with kids at home due to COVID-19.
- Children with disabilities or special needs will also feel the benefits of physical activity and Easterseals South Florida gets them going with a series of activities you can check out at StayHome.Miami.
Venture Outdoors, Cautiously
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends we all practice social distancing to help slow the spread of the current COVID-19 pandemic. To do this, we should avoid crowds, skip large events and keep a safe distance (about 6 feet) from people who are not family members.
But this doesn’t mean kids can’t go outside! As long as they practice social distancing measures and practice good hygiene, a little fresh air could do them a lot of good. Here are some tips for safely being active outside:
- Go for a family walk. Let's face it, who couldn't use a break from homeschooling, the endless news stories or the general monotony of isolation? Also, by getting the whole family out for a 30-minute walk, you're not only fitting in exercise but also a good chance to catch up with one another.
- Practice your green thumb. With warmer weather in full effect, it's the perfect time to enlist the kids to help you in the yard or garden. Pulling weeds, digging holes, planting bulbs and watering plants in the sunshine is an easy way to get the heart pumping.
- Have a family field day. Set up for a water balloon toss, pass the baton, a three-legged race, a crab walk, relay races—the possibilities are endless.
- Kick it old school. Remember the days of sidewalk hopscotch, splashing your way down a soapy slip-n-slide and hula hoop obstacle courses? Reliving your favorite childhood games with your little ones is a fun way to get the kiddos (and you) moving - and may just add a little happiness that we all could use right now.