We’re weeks into the stay-at-home order and your kids have likely watched all the streaming shows, read every book on their list, done too many crafts to count and, let’s face it, become extremely antsy! Staying active can be tough when the couch is calling and the Midwest weather is sunny one day and snowy the next. We reached out to Morgan England, youth well-being coach, Parkview Health, for some tips on how parents can keep their kids (and themselves) moving, for happier, healthier days at home.
The case for cardio
Fun fact: Regular aerobic (cardio) exercise seems to have a positive effect on, and actually boost the size of, the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Your child’s brain gets better when they move their body! Movement is so powerful.
Ideally, we recommend 60 minutes of physical activity each day, but your child doesn’t have to do all of that at once. They can break that 60 minutes into 10-minute (or less) chunks. The goal is to make sure their heart rate is elevating and their breathing is getting heavier.
Small steps still count
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the thought of incorporating exercise into your child’s day-to-day activities, particularly when the house suddenly feels incredibly small. But start by thinking of little ways you can increase their movement. Ask them to carry laundry upstairs (make it a relay race) or help clean the house (a benefit for you, too). Create fitness challenges to complete as a family. Maybe you try to run/walk a certain number of miles over a set number of days or create a backyard obstacle course. This is the time to think outside the box.
Most importantly, get outside when you can! Spring weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to take advantage of those moments when the sky is clear and the temperatures are tolerable. Hop on your bikes, go for a stroll or do a family driveway workout with jumping jacks, squats and pushups.
Many families are learning to balance school at home. Make exercise just like gym class and work it into the regular routine. Physical activity is just as important as our assignments, so we can stretch, get our heart rate up to burn energy and strengthen those muscles.
Working out at home
Some of the easiest and most entertaining workouts to do at home are online. Simply search for “at home workouts” or “kids workouts” for videos and start moving. Here are some of my favorites:
YMCA 360 – The YMCA has released videos to group exercise classes, as well as youth sports videos to do at home
Yoga with Adriene – Good for older kids and parents to do together
Cosmic Kids Yoga – Recommended for preschool and grade school-age children
Fitness Blender workouts – A good option for middle school and up
GoNoodle – Recommended for preschool and grade school-age children
Additionally, Parkview Sports Medicine is offering fitness classes each week. Learn more about their offerings and guidance on setting up a home gym here and be sure to follow Parkview Sports Medicine on Facebook.
Eight tips on being an active family
- Schedule movement. Make specific timeslots throughout the day or week when the whole family is available to do something active. Consider taking a walk, going for a bike ride or playing catch in the backyard. Use this Family Activity Calendar planner to map it out!
- Track your progress. Get the kids involved in tracking the activities you do together and individually. Allow them to check off each activity after they complete it.
- Housework is activity too! Make day-to-day chores a part of being active. Let the kids help with gardening, raking or sweeping the floor.
- Use what you have. Try to find activities that don’t require any extra equipment. Dancing, playing tag and jogging are great examples.
- Plan for all weather. This time of year, the weather can change in an instant. Choose activities to fit any forecast. Active video games or a living room dance party are excellent options for those days when the weather just won’t cooperate.
- Turn off that television. Set healthy limits around technology use and stick to them.
- Start small. Begin by adding one new family activity a day, and as time and family allows, add to it. Take the dog for a longer walk or tack an extra 5 minutes onto your family football game.
- Set a goal. Time confined to our homes is limited. When this is over, plan a fun family activity like going to the zoo or the lake to celebrate the quality time you’ve all spent together.
There are truly so many ways to stay active and enjoy the time we are being given with our families. If you would like more tips or resources on staying fit or helping your children keep moving, email email@example.com.