Uncertain times like the global COVID-19 pandemic can stretch families thin, both financially and emotionally. But when guidelines recommend staying home and social distancing, it's still possible to get regular exercise. In fact, getting exercise may be more important than ever during these stressful times because exercise often helps people be more physically and emotionally resilient. Exercising at home can be surprisingly easy, and it's also a great way to save money.
Why Is Exercise Important for Kids and Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Everyone needs regular exercise, regardless of their age. The good news is that it tends to be easy to encourage kids to move actively, since youngsters' typical active play often fits the requirements for exercise. Getting outdoors to play is an important daily activity for kids of all ages.
Exercise Boosts the Immune System
Researchers have found that regular exercise at a moderate intensity level helps boost the immune system. This means that regular exercisers can better fight off infections, including COVID-19.
Exercise May Prevent Weight Gain
Families in quarantine may fall into a rut and stop moving as much as they should. It can also be easy to overeat when you're home all the time and the kitchen is just steps away. If the pandemic has changed your regular dietary habits, exercise can help burn off extra calories. This can offset the effects of sedentary activities, too.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety
It's common for people to experience more stress and anxiety during challenging times like a pandemic. If financial problems are causing stress, you can feel good about saving money by working out from home. Exercise also can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels, which helps build emotional resilience.
How Can I Help My Child and Family Stay Physically Active During COVID-19 Closures?
Helping children to be physically active is very doable for most parents, even while staying at home and social distancing. The American Heart Association recommends that kids engage in 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity every day, and there are a lot of different ways to make this happen.
Exercise as a Family
Exercising together as a family helps motivate kids to move. Take family walks and bike rides, organize a backyard game of tag or soccer, or plan yoga sessions and dance parties in the living room.
Encourage Outdoor Activity
Kids need time outdoors every day, which also encourages active play. Try to have kids spend time outdoors playing each day, even if you can only fit it in ten or 20 minutes at a time.
Watch Online Exercise Videos
Many online exercise videos are specifically suited for kids. Some gyms and health centers are also producing and offering on-demand virtual fitness classes for kids. The good news is that many of these online exercise options are free, so you can save money while you work out from home.
Make it a Challenge
Set age-appropriate goals for kids, then help them reach them. For example, perhaps children can set a goal of performing 25 push-ups or sit-ups in a row. Encourage them to practice daily to achieve their goals.
Assign Calorie-Burning Chores
You don't need to spend a lot of money on expensive fitness equipment. Many household chores have the added benefit of burning calories, such as raking leaves, shoveling snow, and mowing the lawn. Look for chores that need to be done that require physical activity, and tackle these jobs together.
30+ Fitness, Sports, and Physical Activity Ideas During COVID-19
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If you have additional at-home activities or other resources to recommend, please let us know!