Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the age of Covid-19 has been difficult for both adults and children. Kids today face a whole new set of challenges compared to any other recent generation. On top of a rapidly evolving world of technology, which enables almost infinite entertainment possibilities at their fingertips, many kids now attend school virtually.
In addition, many team sports have been put on hold and group activities are restricted. These factors combined create a recipe for a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before.
Help keep your kids active by creating healthy habits, setting boundaries, and having a little fun.
With the inventions of the smartphone, online gaming, and social media, it’s no wonder that kids can spend hours a day sitting in front of screens. These outlets are both entertaining and time-consuming in an era where every minute of a child’s schedule is accounted for. Gone are the days of ringing the dinner bell at dusk and hearing all the neighborhood kids scurry home from wherever the day took them. Despite providing an outlet, prolonged screen time has a downside.
The American Heart Association found that kids who spend more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day are 1.8 times more likely to become adolescents who are overweight or obese. Luckily, reducing sedentary behavior has shown promise in lowering this risk. Parental guidance is key, especially during Covid-19.
One way to increase your child’s activity level is by creating healthy habits at home. Children are more likely to continue living active lifestyles if they start young. Make it a ritual to do something active with them every day.
Whether it is going for a walk, riding bikes, having a living room dance party, or tossing the ball around outside, dedicate time (at least 20 minutes) to physical activity. In addition, schedule time for yourself to exercise. If your children see you making physical activity a priority, they are more likely to do the same. On the contrary, if they see you putting off exercise, they probably will too.
Another tool for keeping kids active is setting boundaries. Screens are everywhere, and they can easily creep into every aspect of the day. Put limits on daily screen time for your child and stick to them. Keep phones, TV’s, and tablets off limits during family time, such as at the dinner table or at outdoor play.
Model the behavior you’d like to see in your children as well. For instance, put phones away while having conversations with family members. These boundaries set positive examples and encourage less daily screen time.
Have a little fun with it, too. Kids miss team sports, understandably. Go outside with your kids and play a game. Get their competitive juices flowing. It’s great not only for the physiological health benefits, but also for their self-esteem and confidence. If the weather prevents outdoor play, get the family in the living room, play some music, and do some jumping jacks. Make exercise fun, and your kids will want to stay active for life.
If you or your children have physical limitations that don’t allow you to engage in all types of exercise, feel free to contact the Physical Therapists at Physical Therapy Specialists to learn about exercises that will be safe and enjoyable for you.
1. Barnett TA, Kelly AS, Young DR, et al. Sedentary Behaviors in Today's Youth: Approaches to the Prevention and Management of Childhood Obesity: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018;138(11):e142-e159. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000591.
2. Lambiase M. Treating pediatric overweight through reductions in sedentary behavior: a review of the literature. J Pediatr Health Care. 2009;23(1):29-36. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2008.04.005.