The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. On the economy, work, socializing and education, etc. But it is exceptionally difficult for children, especially for toddlers and elementary-aged ones. The transition from school routine to online classes has been very rough due to the sudden onset of lockdown and the inability to participate in community sports or to be able to play out with their friends and peers has left them very inactive in the age where they should be most active.
Physical activity is a very important part of the development and comes with various health benefits. Unable to utilize energy in growth years can make kids cranky and bickering as well as give them mood swings. According to WHO, kids in the age group of 5–17, need minimum 60mins of moderate to intense physical activity every day. Along with muscle & bone strengthening activities a minimum of 3 times per week. Having an active lifestyle is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
So how do you guarantee your child enough exercise? Worry not, read further to get some tips and tricks to turn your munchkins from being a couch potato to exerting some energy in no time!
Kids learn from example. And what better way to inculcate exercising than getting active together as a family. Get the family involved. Not only will it make everyone active but also help bonding and everyone can keep each other motivated. You can try DANCING to your fav music, YOGA, full-body STRETCHING, or strengthening exercises like RUNNING, JOGGING, WALKING, etc. YouTube has various videos covered on the same subject.
Physical activity doesn’t necessarily mean a traditional form of exercising like running or jogging only. It can be anything that can compel kids to move around and exert some energy. Like CYCLING, SPRINTING TRAMPOLINE JUMPS, SKATING, etc.
There is a high possibility that your kid’s favorite activity is not available right now. In such case you can try to use any equipment available at home and experiment with that; TREADMILLS, BICYCLES, etc. You can also invest in some basic equipment for exercising which can be utilized later in the future as well; SKIPPING ROPES, RESISTANCE BANDS, etc. You can try your hand at something new.
You can put in some fun game twists to get few minutes of movement in between screen time activities by playing DARE-THE-JAR. Fill a jar with chits of paper consisting of various dare activities and random points. For example, 10 BURPEES, 30seconds PLANK, 10 FROG JUMPS, etc. The one to earn the max points by finishing the activity in the chit earns a small gift by the end of the week.
Try something new and creative to utilize the space and resources you have at hand. If you have a backyard or a big balcony or living room make sure to use these creatively for SCAVENGER HUNT, COLOUR HUNT, BADMINTON, OBSTACLE RACE, POTATO SACK RACE, TAG, DODGEBALL, BASKETBALL, etc. Similarly, a large dining table can be used to play TABLE-TENNIS with the help of a retractable net.
Use online resources freely available to aid you in your endeavor. Utilize apps like YouTube, Sworkit, Fit Quest Lite, Sweat Deck, Down Dog, and HIIT Workouts. Cook a new recipe together. Shoot a dance video or fitness video to be shared with relatives, friends, or on social media. Being able to see the final result shared with people can be a motivation for your kid to do it more often. Encourage them by showing their progress on tracking devices.
It can feel overwhelming and extremely challenging to make this shift in lifestyle but you can create a weekly plan on paper. It’s a good visual reminder and your kid will love crossing off the activity completed which will be another motivation for them. It will also help you learn from any mistakes made and you can chart a better plan the following week.
Keep in mind, fragmentation is the key to reaching your goal of 60mins of activity. You can break it into smaller sessions of activities to keep variety so the kids aren’t bored and you have ease of management. Hence you can plan multiple shorter activities of choice which will also help in figuring out the activity your child enjoys the most. That is the best source of motivation. Along with fragmentation, consider breaking up screen time activity with some outdoor activity. Not only will it refresh them but also make working out less boring. Outdoor exercising is a natural mood booster. And make sure you start slowly and intensify gradually so the kid’s resistance is built naturally. Keep the activity goals realistic and attainable.
Being active not only promotes physical well-being but also mental well-being. The pandemic situation has been very stressful for kids too as it has turned their regular life upside down. It is our responsibility to prioritize their health as well as safety. In your attempt to boost active lifestyle in the current situation please make sure kids adhere to all safety protocols, maintain social distancing, wear face masks, and wash hands regularly.