COVID-19 has certainly changed the landscape of our entire world. For kids, it has changed their daily lives significantly from how they learn and go to school to activities that are available for them to participate in. Our young athletes went from having endless choices of sports and ways to stay active to restrictions and concerns over what is safe and even what is allowed to happen. From a parent and a physician standpoint, it is important for me to find ways to keep my children and my patients active in a safe manner. Obesity and changes in mental well-being from lack of activity is a very real thing! Many kids use sports and other physical activities to burn off steam and energy that they may otherwise have difficulty channeling. Physical activity has been proven to improve the immune system, help prevent weight gain, and relieve stress and anxiety. All things that are so important!
Tips for Staying Active
So how as a parent can you keep your kids active and healthy in such uncertain times? It certainly isn’t an easy question (especially as cold weather looms on the horizon) but hopefully this post can provide some ideas to keep your kids active and to “get the wiggles out.” The American Heart Association would love for kids to get 60 minutes of vigorous activity a day so this is a good goal to aim for.
Do it together!
Kids will be more likely to exercise if they see their parents getting into it too. Set aside specific time in the evenings or weekends where you do something active as a family. Be it taking a bike ride, walking the neighborhood, or doing a workout video, do it together. It will also make you feel better too.
If it is safe, spend time outdoors.
Kids are more likely to be active if they are out of the house. You can blow bubbles and have them chase them if they are younger. Older kids can play tag, dribble a ball, or play catch. Even doing several 15 minute spurts of activity outside will add up quickly.
A little competition can be good.
Some kids respond well to a challenge or the notion of a competition with a sibling. Kids can set goals to work towards (i.e., shaving time off of a run around the yard) or they can compete against each other in activities that encourage physical activity (i.e., timing each other at a homemade obstacle course or having a scavenger hunt that takes them around the yard or the house—all while running).
Use technology for good.
Many of us (including myself) worry about how much screen time our kids are getting especially if they are learning online. However, if the weather is poor physical activity might have to happen indoors. YouTube has tons of kid’s workout and yoga videos that are fun and engaging. Even companies like Peloton have jumped on board with kid’s fitness workouts. They have choices for kids of all ages and abilities.
Don’t be afraid to bundle up.
As the weather gets cold, we have a tendency to forget about outdoor activities. Invest in warm coats, gloves, and mittens this winter and make a push to head outside. Hiking, walking and biking are all still feasible in the cold with the right equipment.
Be it safe sports activities or something less formal like hiking or biking, we should strive to keep our kids as active as possible in these tough times. Be creative and make it something fun!