Keep your Kids Active!

With schools still closed due to the pandemic in many countries around the world, there is a growing concern among parents about the levels of physical inactivity their children are facing, particularly as the summer months are here. For children going to school, though the structure of school may be different, they still have the routine of waking up, getting ready, having breakfast, and leaving the house to go to school where there are opportunities to take part in sports and physical activities. However, for those children who are still taking their classes online and not physically going to school – the extent of their activity is from the bed, to the kitchen, to the desk or table where they take their classes and that’s about it. The heat of the summer, especially in the Middle East and other Asian countries, makes it difficult to indulge in outdoor play and activities and adds on to the lethargy felt by many children lately. The lack of activity, paired with the heat, and the addition of the monotony of online schooling – has caused children to experience issues such as weight gain, feeling listless and without energy, and a dwindling interest and focus on their classes. As parents, it becomes worrisome when we see our children going through this phase and it is important we take some steps to alleviate the situation to the best of our ability.

 

1. Set Limits. After 4-5 hours of online classes in front of a screen, children often feel drained out and don’t feel like doing much of anything but eating and relaxing – which usually involves spending more time in front of the screen watching something that interests them and takes their mind off school work. This further strains their eyes, makes them feel more tired, and the cycle continues. Before getting caught up in this vicious cycle, it is important that we set limits on screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. This time should be used for a re-boost and to get their energy levels up.

2.Eat Clean. The heat, paired with COVID restrictions of indoor play spaces, doesn’t leave us with too many options. One thing we can control, however, is what options we are giving our children to eat. Junk and processed foods may give temporary energy boosts as the sugar kicks in, but in the long run, they do not provide the nutrients that we need to sustain a healthy and stable lifestyle. The inactivity, along with junk food, will only result in weight gain and lethargy which can then link to other health issues. Light, fresh foods – particularly fresh fruits or fruit smoothies – are refreshing and healthy in the summer heat.

3.Role Model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves. Engage with your kids – start a game of freeze tag in the garden when the weather is nice or get out some yoga mats and start an exercise routine in your living room. Watch how the children observe and then join in! Provide healthy food options, and make sure that you are eating the same thing. If you have soda with a meal and expect your child to drink water – you aren’t using the right approach!

4.Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys which they can even use indoors at times when the weather doesn’t allow them to play outside.

5.Focus on the activity of interest. If your child particularly likes to ride a bike or swim or play football, let them indulge in it. The important part is physical activity, and not getting them to try new things. At times when options are limited, whatever means or ways in which kids are getting some physical activity into their routine – grab it! We tend to lose our focus when we as parents feel bored, assuming our child must be bored of the same activity too, but most of the time that isn’t the case!

 

The global pandemic situation has turned everyone’s lives upside down and we tend to focus on the big things and the big changes, and let go of the seemingly little things which may be equally important. As long as our kids are not ill, we tend to ignore the long-term health effects that staying indoors, extended screen exposure, and lack of physical activity can have. That is why is it vital to shift focus at times and do whatever is in our power to ensure the physical and mental well-being of our children.