It’s more important than ever for families to develop new routines for staying physically and mentally healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it particularly difficult to encourage children, especially teenagers, to switch off devices and exercise.
Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), youth ages 8-18 spend nearly 23 hours in front of a screen using entertainment media?
Physical activity is a key way to give children a break from their digital devices, combat childhood obesity and improve their mental and physical well-being. To be healthy, children should be physically active. The CDC recommends children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Helping your child stay healthy by keeping them physically active and spending less time in front of the screen is a tremendous step towards having a healthy life that last into adulthood.
Here are a few simple tips to help children reduce their screen time and increase physical activity:
- Set a physical activity goal: Discuss with your child the great benefits of physical activity and come up with a goal that they’d like to set for themselves. For example: increasing the number of jumping jacks or sit-ups they can do, to how long one can hold a plank or even going for a daily walk or bike ride.
- Be an active parent: Experts say that what kids want more than anything else is time with their parents. To give them what their little heart’s desire, don’t just send them out to play - play with them. For example: play tag, go camping in the back yard or collect leaves and flowers for an art project.
- Make it fun: Keep exercise activities fun for kids! Mix it up with activities that the kids like most so they can ENJOY physical activity. Have each family member write different activities down on a sheet of paper and place them in a hat. Each day you’ll be sure to have a surprise physical activity that everyone can do.
- Just Dance: Clear some space, put on your favorite jam and just dance! Make it more fun and let each person take a turn as DJ.
Felicia Green, MPH, Child Health Promotion Specialist and Safe Kids Big Bend Coordinator