Children need to stay active as part of being healthy and this is particularly important during the pandemic. The absence of physical activities can have a toll on their physical and mental health. Keeping them active while at home can be a challenge for many parents and this may lead to a stagnant lifestyle where too much sitting and time on screen become the new normal during pandemic.
Kids who are active improve their mental, emotional and physical health through play and exercises. It is a way to prevent future lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Children who have an active lifestyle have better mood and mental abilities.
Kids need at least an hour of physical activity a day according to WHO but preschoolers need around three hours daily. You can break it into short activities throughout the day. Depending on the child’s age and developmental needs, there are many ways to let the kids stay active at home during COVID.
So how do you ensure the children get enough exercise without compromising their safety from COVID?
If you have teenagers at home, then make a mini gym workout. There are plenty of exercises that don’t require equipment. Bodyweight routines such as lunges, pushups, planks and squats are few movements that can totally help them burn calories and get their heart pump. You can also purchase cheap equipment like jump ropes and weights but to add the fun and encourage creativity, you can use stuff around the house.
Turn on some music and let your kids follow the rhythm. Let your kids move around through dancing freely or following a tutorial on Youtube. Music allows self-expression, lifts mood and a natural way for your children to increase movement. Make it more fun by playing freeze dance.
Taking a brief walk has a big impact on the children’s mental health. Even with social distancing and mask wearing lifestyle, children can still experience the joy of taking a quick walk around the neighborhood. Isolation affects children deeply and this can cause several behavioral problems at home. A walk helps reset the mind and boost circulation. Make sure to brief the child about proper safety protocols for their safety.
Kids yoga is something worth exploring with your children. If you have kids who don’t like intense workout, yoga can be a good option. There are many online tutorials available for children of all ages. All you need is a mat. You can also modify the sets if the children find it hard especially for beginners. A short stretch is sufficient and don’t stress about following every move precisely.
When going out is not possible, creating fun indoor play can help with their physical activities. Use whatever you have at home and create fun games such as jumping around on books, crawling under tables and hula hooping competition to win some prizes.
Gardening is another great way to encourage movement and teach kids about the environment. Let your children help you in the yard or you can start a gardening project together. From planning to the actual planting process, allow them to participate in the project. This will teach them to appreciate their surroundings while getting a lot of movements from digging, watering plants and carrying gardening materials.
Another great way to encourage movement is playing good old obstacle race or treasure hunting. It may require extra time from you to prepare but this can be a monthly activity the kids will look forward to. Setting a timer for them to accomplish the mission can make the activity more intense and fun.
If you have a kid who is an athlete, it is very important to keep a regular exercise routine. Athletes need to stay fit and continue to sharpen their skills. Whatever sports they are into, conditioning is necessary to avoid injury once they are back on the field. It is also the best time for them to explore new exercises and strengthen weak areas. Strength training and HIIT can be a good routine to try.
Unlike older children, exercise routines can be boring for preschoolers. And since preschoolers need more physical activities than the older ones, incorporating various games will help them get the exercise they need. Hide and seek, throwing games and follow the leader are some games that they will love.
A simple yet effective way to keep the kids engaged in physical activity is to let them help around the house. Household chores like sweeping, vacuuming, and washing the dishes are simple activities that encourage movement and develop a sense of responsibility. Arranging furniture or assembling flatpack furniture is also a wonderful way for them to learn and move.
Getting the kids to stay active during COVID is essential for their mental and physical health. The pandemic shouldn’t be a reason for these children to sit at home, they still can get the exercise they need indoors with your help.