According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), children over the age of 5 need at least one hour per day of rigorous physical activity that gets their heart rate up. A shocking statistic is that only 66%–nearly 2 of 3 children ages 5 to 10 are getting less than an hour of exercise per day. On average, children use screens for over 7 ½ hours a day.
These numbers make it clear: our children need to be more active!
Regular physical activity is important for kids for physical development, but it’s also very important for mental and social development.
Being active helps children:
- Build coordination and improved confidence with movement
- Improve learning and attention span
- Increased engagement and interaction with others
- Improved self regulation skills (can remain calm when frustrated)
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Build strong muscles and bones
- Improve self-esteem
- Build social skills such as teamwork, cooperation, respect and problem solving
- Improve cardiovascular fitness (heart and blood flow)
- Build healthy life habits
- Have fun!!
Cold Weather and COVID
As the weather is getting colder we are all spending more time indoors. COVID has also presented some challenges. Play opportunities are limited and social interaction is at a minimum. Youth sports are happening in adapted form, or sometimes not at all. This has left kids often playing alone or spending time on a device. Kids are socially isolated and engaging in limited physical activity.
This doesn’t have to be the case! With a little flexibility and intentionality parents can continue to ensure their children are staying active and engaged.
Kids look to their parents about what life should look like. Show them that being active every day is a priority. You can lead by example or involve the whole family. Play outside with your kids. Go on a family walk and stop at the park, or bring a ball to shoot some hoops. There are so many different ways to integrate movement into daily family life.
Active play can involve free play or games that encourage kids to keep moving and using those social skills to engage in play with other children.
- Ball games
Active Transportation is a great way to keep kids active and socially distanced since everyone uses their own equipment.
- Jumping Rope
There are lots of ways to stay active inside too.
- Dance party
- Hallway balloon games-catch, relay races, soccer
- Peleton app-has great workouts for families to do together, or older kids to do on their own. Only $10/month and can be put on most devices.
Staying Active in Lincoln
While there are some limitations due to COVID and the often cold weather of Nebraska, there are lots of ways families can stay active.
- Hike or go sledding at Pioneers Park
- Walk through all three floors of Morrill Hall
- Bike/walk around Holmes Lake-that’s 2 ½ miles! They also have some great hills for sledding
- Do the Wildlife Walk at the Lincoln Zoo
- Family bike or hike on Billy Wolff, MoPac or Rock Island Trails
- Have family relay races in the snow in your backyard. This gets your heart rate up and is guaranteed to bring lots of laughs.
Dr. Kristen Pfeil is a pediatric occupational therapist in Lincoln, NE. Her clinic Connect Pediatric Therapy provides services to kids and families in the clinic, their home or the community. Find out more at connectpediatrictherapy.com
For more ideas on keeping kids moving check us out on Facebook @connectpediatrictherapy