By Helaine Krasner MS, RDN, CDN and Erin Caraher RDN, CDN
Physical activity is important for people of all ages, but especially for children. It promotes growth and development, strong bones and muscles, endurance and helps them maintain a healthy weight. Research has also shown that moderate to vigorous activity helps boost children’s critical thinking skills, grade point averages and standardized test scores. Physical activity also is important for mental health in that it reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep quality.
Prioritizing physical activity is especially important now that we are restricted from engaging in group activities and may have limited access to public parks, ball fields and playgrounds. Now that most of us are learning and working from home, we must be more mindful of scheduling movement into our daily routine.
There are many ways to keep physical activity front and center during this difficult time.
- Set a time daily for exercise to help maintain a sense of structure. Better yet, schedule short and frequent opportunities for you and your child to move two to three times per day to break up long periods of sitting time.
- Variety is the spice of life. Make a list of ideas and plan one for each day. For example, Monday could be bike riding, Tuesday might be an obstacle course, Wednesday for relay races, and so on.
- Introduce your child to favorite activities from your childhood. Some ideas are Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Hopscotch or jumping rope.
- Let your child teach you a new activity. This is a great opportunity to improve your skills using a video game controller while exercising. Most platforms have a variety of active games to choose from or you can also try many online dance video tutorials.
- Speaking of dancing, just turn on some music and host a private dance party. Everyone can get a turn to pick their favorite music. See who can come up with the silliest moves.
- Turn a neighborhood walk into a game. Play I Spy or race to the nearest stop sign.
- This is a great time to involve your kids in daily chores now that everyone isn’t running around with a busy schedule of activities. Anything that gets them moving and away from a screen is great – slicing, dicing, washing, folding, raking, weeding – the possibilities are endless.
Be a role model for your children. Children learn what they see. If you make time to engage in physical activity regularly, they will be much more likely to make it part of their lives as well. Make it as fun as possible and incorporate it naturally into their lives on the regular basis, especially now.
Helaine Krasner MS, RDN, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.
Erin Caraher RDN, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who works with Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals.