Even under normal circumstances, it can seem like keeping your kids healthy and active can be an uphill battle. But during the pandemic? It’s virtually impossible.
For many parents, working from home is simply no longer a choice these days. And it’s the same with remote learning for most kids. But research has shown that physical activity results in better performance on test scores and general cognitive function. Yet in a world of Zoom calls and at-home testing, most kids are lagging behind in both social interactions as well as the benefits of regular physical exercise.
Even as little as 20 minutes of regular exercise can have a beneficial effect on your kid’s health and mood. And here are some of the best ways to encourage your kids to get away from their screens and get back to the real world.
Limit Their Screen Time
Screen time is inevitable during the pandemic. But excessive screen time has been linked to lower cognitive development as well as the likelihood of meeting established sleep and physical activity guidelines. There’s a tremendous gulf between healthy screen time and unhealthy screen time. Try to limit their non-academic time on their devices to no more than an hour a day (half an hour for younger kids.)
Schedule a Physical Exercise Routine
Scheduling a routine time slot for exercise encourages kids to incorporate physical activity as part of their everyday schedule. While current guidelines from the Center for Disease Control suggest that children between the ages of 6 and 17 perform at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, for many parents that’s simply not a realistic option. But by scheduling a regular time slot of exercise before or after school, parents can help fill the gap of daily physical activity kids are missing out on while learning at home.
Be an Exercise Role Model
Kids imitate what they see in real life—and that includes their parents. But when Mom and Dad are too busy with emails, video conferencing and screen time themselves, they’re likely to assume it’s acceptable behavior. It isn’t. Physical activity doesn’t just decrease your likelihood of disease, but also has a significant impact on your productivity. Setting aside the same amount of time for physical exercise as your kids can help you break up the monotony of your homework schedule as well as setting an example for your kids to follow.
Eat Right, Think Right
It’s far too convenient to run to the nearest snack in the house when you need a quick break. Unfortunately, for many of us, that means unhealthy options such as potato chips and other junk food. There’s a strong correlation between the consumption of junk food and decreased mental health and it’s as true for parents as it is for kids. Keeping a fridge full of veggies, fruit, and other healthy food options helps both children and adults curb poor eating habits and encourages a much more positive and productive lifestyle.