Kids become lockdown lazy? Here’s how to get them off the couch, away from screens, and moving again with physical activity.
With team sports on hold, social dates discouraged and gym class limited to Zoom at home, many tweens and teens are falling into the habit of sleeping in, snacking more and resorting to screen time out of boredom. According to a study in the journal Obesity, kids in lockdown tended to eat an extra meal a day, sleep an additional half hour, and spend more time on devices. Plus, they’re consuming more sugary drinks and junk foods.
In short: they’re getting lockdown lazy, which can take a toll on their mental and physical health.
“Exercise makes everything better: sleep, mood, concentration, blood pressure, and blood sugar, to name a few,” says Dr. Lester Baskin, founder of the Portland-based Baskin Clinic for primary care. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that kids ages 6 to 17 exercise 60 minutes per day, Dr. Baskin says that “even as little as 15 minutes daily is beneficial to their mental and physical health.” Here are five ways to get kids on a healthy track this new year.
1. Schedule daily exercise, with options.
Kids do best when they have a routine. Find time in the day to schedule an outdoor activity (even in winter), whether it’s before school starts, during a break, or after school. Let kids have the option of what they can do but they have to stick to that scheduled time. Need ideas? A family walk, a couple of laps around the block, jumping rope in the backyard, throwing snowballs, or even online dance and workout videos if the weather isn’t cooperating, whatever makes sense for your family and your lifestyle.
2. Keep your house stocked with healthy foods.
Being home all day every day means more opportunity to mindlessly reach for snacks, lots of them. Try to schedule in snack time too, like one snack between meals, and avoid buying junk food to limit the temptation. Instead, leave out a bowl of fruit, fresh veggies like sliced carrots, and lean sources of protein like cheese cubes and yogurt.
3. Limit screen time in the house.
“There is healthy screen time (interactive sites for learning, exploring, exercising) and unhealthy screen time (endless social media scrolling),” says Dr. Baskin. In fact, you can use Circle’s Reward feature to encourage kids to get outside and away from screens for at least part of the day. “The end goal is getting kids to move their bodies, and I know it's a struggle when the weather is lousy and socializing is discouraged. But an outdoor walk with one friend can be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and is perfectly safe, especially if both wear masks,” he adds.
4. Model a healthy lifestyle.
Kids are great imitators and if they see their parents start to make healthy choices, they will likely follow suit. Join them during scheduled exercise time and reach for healthier snacks too throughout the day. Bonus: you’ll start the new year with a healthy mood boost to boot.
5. Create a workout pod.
Whether your pod includes extended family or a neighbor family, ask them to join in on an activity. Start a walking, biking, running or hiking group, with masks in tow. Get kids to play a modified version of the sports they love like soccer or basketball. Give everyone a jump rope and challenge them to a 15-minute jump-a-thon. Get creative, make it fun and kick off 2021 on the right foot with healthy habits.
To learn more about how Circle can help you manage screen time at home, visit meetcircle.com.