Exercise is an essential factor in boosting immunity, promoting healthy development and reducing symptoms associated with stress and anxiety. During this uncertain time however, it has become exponentially more challenging to encourage physical activity.
In addition to the fact that parents are already being expected to balance their children’s academic demands, household obligations and occupational responsibilities during these unprecedented times, there is also the reality that many parks have closed down and athletic organizations are pushing the pause button on upcoming seasons.
Consequently, parents may be noticing a change in their children’s overall disposition — more frequent and intense shifts in mood, a lowered ability to self-regulate when frustrated, diminished confidence and self esteem, and a decrease in the length and recuperative quality of sleep.
The benefits of consistent exercise in children of all ages are endless.
Here are some tips to help encourage physical activity throughout the entire day:
Emphasize Family Time
Exercise as a family: Go for both scheduled and impromptu bike rides and long walks together.
Promote Social Connection
Create structured practices with a small group of peers: If your child usually participates on a sports team, have a few of their teammates over to play a game together or practice strengthening their skills in the backyard.
Encourage Independent Play
Schedule in as much time as possible each day for the children to simply be outside and play in the yard, using their imagination to entertain themselves as they soak up much needed Vitamin D.
Make it fun! Create age appropriate challenges that entice your child to set weekly exercise goals they can master independently. Focus on your child’s specific interests and, together, pick a target goal that they can build on (for instance, the distance they can run, the number of baskets they can shoot, the number of push ups they can complete).
Reinforce Productive Contribution
Assign daily and weekly chores that not only encourage movement, but require a solid amount of time and effort, like mowing the lawn, washing the car and cleaning out the garage.