Health & Fitness: Tips to keep your children active during a pandemic
Health & Fitness by Whitney Sauer
Even before the pandemic started, many parents struggled to come up with ways to keep their kids active. Now, due to the pandemic, with many facilities and activities unable to be open, it’s even harder. So what are struggling parents to do to get their kids active and yet keep them safe?
Here are some of my tips and tricks for having an active family during COVID.
First, creativity is key. Work your brain, and be creative with your family’s fitness. Being active doesn’t require four walls, machines or a ton of equipment. The great outdoors is the perfect venue for some physical activity and is as close as your own backyard or driveway. If you are comfortable enough, parks are a great resource for a child to get in some physical activity as well. Use the park to create an obstacle course and challenge the whole family to see who has the fastest time. Feeling hesitant to go to the park? You and your kiddos can create an obstacle course with household items and/or chalk at home. Additionally, you could create a scavenger hunt with a list of things to find in nature. Then take a walk around the lake, trail or your neighborhood and see how many different types of leaves, birds etc. your child can find. You can always throw in some competition and public service by having a race to see who can pick up the most trash in 10 minutes.
My next tip goes hand-in-hand with creativity; let your child drive their own physical activity. As a coach, I sometimes let my kids take the lead in their own fitness. During stretching exercises I call out a name, and that kiddo has to decide what the next stretch will be. If in the middle of an activity your child decides to go in a different direction, follow their lead. In the past I have had my kiddos come up to me during drills and say, “Coach Whitney, what if we do this?” More often than not, I find myself changing my plan to add in this child’s idea. I find the more input a child has, the more enjoyment and interest the child will find in the activity.
Raining outside or the Minne-snow-ta weather decided to make life miserable? No problem. Grab a balloon and place a blanket over two chairs to create a volleyball game. Have your child teach you that dance they saw on TikTok, or, better yet, pick a song and create your own dance routine. Stream a yoga class. The more creative (and sillier, in my opinion), the better! If all else fails, Pinterest is an amazing asset with many ingenious outdoor and indoors ideas to get those kiddos moving.
Lastly, be active with your kiddos. Do the activity with them whatever it may be. Children thrive on quality time and, like creativity, it is good for their emotional and mental health. Not to mention, seeing you being active sets an example for your children on having a healthy lifestyle. And who knows, maybe you can get a little workout from it as well.
This is a very unique opportunity that we have to spend even more time with our families. Your children will remember the time Mom played balloon volleyball in the living room and Dad helped them create their own dance routine. Your children don’t care if an activity is Pinterest perfect, they’re just excited to do something with you. So make those memories and don’t forget to have some fun.
Whitney Sauer is the youth sports and community program director at the Albert Lea Family Y. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, woodworking and spending time with family and friends.
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