In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, we are being asked to keep our social distance and stay at home. Recreational parks, playgrounds, beaches, gyms and indoor sporting venues are now closed. Many of us are working from home with young children in the mix, juggling our working commitments with our parenting responsibilities.

With these new routines, it’s likely we’re spending more time inside than we usually do. So, how do you keep yourself sane and your children entertained over the coming weeks? One of the best ways is to stay healthy and active as much as possible; using those muscles improves our physical and mental well-being. Try to find ways to add physical play time activity into your family daily schedule and stick to it.

When children are active and involved in physical activity they develop:

  • strong muscles and bones
  • healthy weight
  • better sleep patterns
  • a better outlook on life
  • a decreased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health for physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for all ages. The guideline recommends children (aged one-to-five) need to spend at least three hours a day being physically active, including moderate physical activity where the heart and lungs have to work harder then they normally have do (e.g., fast walking, dancing, jogging, running and cycling).

Make the decision to include family play time in your daily routine and create a daily schedule. Set a realistic target of 15-20 minutes of activity every day and build it by adding five extra minutes every couple of days. Track the level of your physical activity using a pedometer, fitness band or online tracker. Choose toys and games promoting physical activity and remember to keep it fun! You’ll be more likely to do it if you have fun doing it!

Here are some fun ways to keep our bodies moving and keeping active:

  • Go for a family walk around the neighbourhood.
  • Play a game of hopscotch.
  • Grab a ball (football, basketball, soccer ball, tennis ball) – throw it, bounce it, kick it, your child will come up with lots of ideas if you ask them.
  • Create an obstacle course.
  • Play tag.
  • Play with your pet.
  • Take a bike ride around the neighbourhood.
  • Play frisbee.
  • Play ‘Fitness Deck’ – use a deck of cards. Assign a different activity to each suit, such as Hearts = jumping jacks, Spades = hopping, Diamonds = push ups, Clubs = skipping. Shuffle the deck of cards and take turns with your child picking up the top card. The number on the card represents the number of times you need to complete an activity. Before starting, decide the value of Aces, Jacks, Queens and Kings.
  • Play Simon Says Workout for Kids com/keeping-kids-healthy-active/

You can be active in the house too and you don’t have to come up with the play ideas yourself. There are many websites and videos with exercises and games:

  • Hy-Vee KidsFit has 15-20 minutes workout videos on their website with exercises and games to help you stay healthy. They also post 30 Days of Play activity ideas on their social media.
  • GoNoodle for Families offers free mindfulness and movement videos created by child development experts.
  • Active Home is a website providing parents with meaningful movement opportunities that progress students toward physical education and social and emotional learning outcomes.
  • A quick search on YouTube for “movement and music” returns endless options for videos that will help your kids get on their feet and having fun (e.g., Freeze Dance com/watch?v=2UcZWXvgMZE).
  • As part of the COVID-19 donation, CoordiKids – Childhood Development Programs – offers families free access to their online program with targeted movement breaks to boost attention span, reduce fidgeting and improve instruction-following. You can sign up for free at com/schoolathome/

Remember to keep physical activity fun and do it together with your family by incorporating it into your family routine daily.