The COVID-19 pandemic has caused global changes to most aspects of life, and one of the largest obstacles affecting children across the United States is the transition to school at home, aka distance learning. It is easy to sit in front of the computer or TV during the day, but staying active in between screen time has important benefits for those of all ages.
According to Michael Dressing, MD at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital/U18 Sports Medicine,
Children who maintain a healthy lifestyle are more likely to have stronger bones and muscles, maintain an appropriate weight, perform better academically, improve their memory and attention, experience less mental health problems, and have a lower risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.
So what can you do to have fun while staying active? Here are seven ways from Dr. Dressing to introduce healthy habits in your child’s daily routine to empower physical activity.
7 Tips to Break Up Distance Learning and Add Physical Activity into Your Home Curriculum
- Take a 10-minute break every hour from schoolwork to stand up and walk around
- Set goals to stand while studying, reading, or typing for at least two hours per day
- Reduce and limit screen time (phone, computer, tablet, TV, video games) as much as possible
- Encourage about three hours of active play daily for children ages 3-5, and at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for children ages 6-17
- Plan family activities and games that encourage movement
- Use positive reinforcement and encouragement to reward good behavior
- Maintain healthy, age-appropriate sleeping habits
Here’s another fun activity to do with kids in between school work.
Take a break every hour or two from schoolwork or television to spend a few minutes with fun exercises! Spell your name, friends’ names, or exciting topics that you are learning about at school using these exercises.
Feel free to change the amount of each exercise based on your own fitness level. How big of a word/sentence can you spell?
- A: 15 jumping jacks
- B: 3 burpees (Begin standing, drop to a squat, then into a plank with your arms extended, return to a squatting position, then jump up in the air)
- C: 10 lunges
- D: Waddle like a duck for 15 seconds
- E: 10 push ups
- F: 20 mountain climbers
- G: 30 second wall sit
- H: 10 frog jumps
- I: 20 crunches
- J: Balance on each foot for 10 seconds
- K: 10 squats
- L: Walk on your tip toes for 15 seconds
- M: Arm circles for 20 seconds
- N: 3 cartwheels
- O: 20 bicycle kicks (Lie on your back and pretend to pedal a bicycle)
- P: Dance to your favorite song for 30 seconds
- Q: 10 butt-kicks
- R: 10 toe touches (Reach up to the ceiling and then down to touch your toes without bending your knees)
- S: Jog in place for 30 seconds
- T: Hold a plank for 20 seconds
- U: Cherry pickers for 20 seconds (Reach up to “pick a cherry” and then reach down to your waist)
- V: One somersault
- W: Heel-toe walk for 10 steps without falling
- X: Crab walk for 10 seconds
- Y: Walk on your knees for 15 seconds
- Z: Pretend to ride a horse around the room for 20 seconds
We hope these ideas help families get moving and create healthy habits together during this period of distance learning.