Why staying active is vital for your kids

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The plan to phase children to go back to school has started across most states, with South Australia and Northern Territory resuming school at normal capacity. However, remote education will still be carried out for the rest of Term 2 for NSW, Victoria and ACT, while Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia are reopening schools but are still offering online classes for families who are able to supervise and teach students from home.

So it may take a few more weeks until some students in Australia can fully transition back into normal classes. This means the extended time spent at home sitting in front of the computer for online classes, to connect with friends via social media or for leisure is going to be prolonged.

Online classes have been a fantastic substitute for everyday learning, but it doesn’t capture the level of physical activity that kids get during a ‘normal’ week. Without PE classes, after school and weekend sports or access to recreation facilities due to current restrictions, it becomes more challenging to make sure that our kids are up and moving as much as they should be.

Lack of physical activity has been correlated with poor mental health conditions, where feelings of loneliness and isolation can be enhanced especially during this time. This is why it is so important now, more than ever, to encourage kids to stay active. Even though today’s circumstances limit the usual outdoor and group activities, there are still plenty of ways for the kids to move around not just for the body but also for the mind.

Virtual extracurricular classes

A lot of local sports clubs and studios have had to shift to an online business model and are now offering live classes via Zoom or pre-recorded classes on Youtube or Instagram. This is an excellent way for the kids to continue their extracurricular activities from home!

Higher Jiu Jitsu , a Sydney-based martial arts studio, now offers a comprehensive schedule of jiu jitsu classes 6 days a week, as well as the option of group classes to fulfill the social interaction aspect that children experience in a team sport.

Similarly, Neutral Bay School of Dance offers weekly live classes on Zoom as well as recordings of the class so that students can practice their dancing at virtually any time of the week. A benefit of flexibility that physical classes are usually not able to provide.

Setting step count goals

In a world of Fitbits, Apple watches and health apps, counting your steps has quickly become a popular norm amongst all ages. Jump on board this movement with the kids and all family members as a way to engage in physical activity. You can set competitions for who has the highest step count during the week or set daily goals for your kids with a reward if they reach their goals consistently.

No need for a smartwatch or the iPhone Health app, there are plenty of online pedometers that you can download onto your phone to keep track. Pacer is available on both iOS and Android, which has the basic function of counting your steps plus more features such as comparing your step counts with other users to get the family competition going!

After class activity

We are fortunate enough in Australia to still be allowed to step outdoors for exercise and with more restrictions being lifted, we will start to see a wider variety of activities become available again. It’s good to engage kids in a daily outdoor activity after they finish their online classes, such as a walk around the park or playing some form of sport with another family member.

Establishing a daily after school activity will help develop a routine where kids can continue to stay active regularly, rather than slumping back to the computer for the remainder of the day as their form of ‘downtime’.

Even though staying physically healthy is currently at the forefront of everyone’s minds, mental health should not be pushed to the side for all family members, kids and adults alike. Emerging Minds is a great resource that focuses on supporting children during this pandemic, tackling different issues that can potentially affect their mental health. Staying active is one of the many, but highly effective ways of helping sustain a positive mindset amongst our kids.

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