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Physical activity should be part of kids' quarantine routine

Experts recommend that parents build exercise into their kids’ daily schedules

Photo (c) Orbon Alija - Getty Images
Recent studies have emphasized the importance of staying active during the COVID-19 pandemic, as consumers can reap both physical and mental health benefits. 

Now, researchers from the University of Strathclyde are calling for parents to ensure their young ones are staying active during these challenging times. The researchers recommend that physical activity become part of kids’ daily routines while at home. 

“The measures against COVID-19 are in place for a very good reason, but this reduction in physical activity could be seen as an unintended consequence,” said researcher John Reilly. “Even before the lockdown measures, it was a major problem; our previous research has found that, in Scotland alone, fewer than 20 percent of children were meeting physical activity guidelines.” 

Getting kids moving

Children’s physical activity levels tend to be poor worldwide, and being at home for extended periods of time increases the likelihood that kids will stay sedentary. In analyzing results from 15 countries worldwide, the researchers learned that young people are not moving nearly enough while quarantined. 

While the researchers believe lawmakers are responsible for pushing out messages promoting physical activity, there are also steps families can take to ensure that everyone is moving. They emphasize the importance of having a routine for kids. Bedtimes should remain as usual, and physical activity should be incorporated into the daily schedule. 

Though limiting screen time is important so kids aren’t sitting for extended periods of time, the researchers also say that screens can be effective in encouraging exercise.

“...even screen time can also incorporate activity resources, such as online fitness videos,” Reilly said. “Breaks in screen time are also important, but one reason physical activity is most needed just now is that school is the place where children most often have it.” 

It’s also important to take advantage of the outdoors. Appropriate social distancing is always required, but as the weather gets warmer, it’s the perfect opportunity to get outside and walk, play games, or ride bikes. 

“It’s important that people make whatever use of their environment they can and take the opportunities they can to keep physical activity going,” said Reilly. “The vast majority of children have access to outdoor spaces they can still use.” 

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