The benefits of exercise for us all are undeniable. But the ‘new normal’ has meant less physical activity for many children of school age.
Children can still stay active and exercising will likely lift their spirits if they can go running, ride a bike or exercise at home. No matter what their fitness level, children can improve their overall health with exercises they can do at home.
Simple home-based exercises can include:
These exercises use one’s own body weight as resistance. Some basic exercises include squats, single-leg balancing, push-ups, sit-ups and side planks. For those who like to use exercise equipment, barbells, ankle weights and exercise bands, which were sold out at the start of the pandemic, may now be available.
These exercises increase heart rate as body-weight exercises performed consecutively with little or no rest in between can provide a cardiovascular benefit. Star jumps and jogging in place, can also improve fitness. For those who like dancing, a half hour or so of dancing to fast music can provide a good workout. Teenagers may enjoy a stationary exercise bike, and appropriate YouTube exercise videos might be an incentive for different age groups, even younger children.
This is an important part of overall fitness, especially for young children. If teens can use their time at home to do daily stretching exercises to increase their flexibility, it will pay off when they go back to playing their sport or start a new one.
These exercises enable athletes to work on their strength and flexibility as it relates to a specific sport. These kinds of exercises are more challenging to do indoors. If a teenager has a back yard, or any access to open space, they could practice skills they use in running, football, basketball and other activities. When outside, it is important you follow guidelines regarding wearing a mask and social distancing.
Ease back into Exercise:
After any period of inactivity, it’s important for us to ease back into exercise and sports in particular as doing too much too soon could lead to injury.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid a rapid change in activity level. Outside activities such as jogging, or cycling can also help prepare for more intensive sports activity;
- Start slowly and work up to the level of exercise your child engaged in before the pandemic;
- Apply the “10 percent rule.” This will help avoid overuse injuries, which happen when an individual does too much, putting excessive stress on a bone, muscle or joint. If someone is running 10 miles per week, for example, he or she would increase the distance to 11 miles the following week;
- Encourage your child to listen to their body. Any type of pain is a sign that they need to take a break.
Safety should always come first, not only in terms of injury prevention but with respect to one’s environment.
If your child is engaging in an activity such as running or walking outside, be aware of your surroundings. If someone in the immediate vicinity isn’t following guidelines by wearing a mask, keep your distance.