ARLINGTON, Texas — Health and education experts worry children starting the school year at home aren’t getting the exercise they need.
The CDC says kids in grades K-12 need a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise a day in the form of recess or physical education. That’s especially hard to accomplish for busy parents who are splitting their time working from home and guiding their kids through virtual learning.
Teens can exercise on their own and some schools offer virtual PE classes, but that still might not be enough for younger kids.
Here are some easy and effective ways for working parents to get your kids moving while learning from home.
Guided exercise videos are popular and easy to set up on YouTube, according to Amber Robinson, a former pre-K teacher who worked as a school counselor in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.
She recommends Cosmic Kids Yoga, which offers kid-themed yoga lessons that run anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. The host teaches yoga poses with storylines that vary from superheroes to Disney movies and more.
Robinson also recommends Go Noodle, which offers a variety of dance and movement activities.
Frequent breaks throughout the day can also help kids burn off excess energy and help them focus. Robinson recommends kids do some jumping jacks or stretches for five minutes in between virtual lessons.
For younger kids, something as simple as blowing bubbles for five minutes can get them laughing, moving and breathing before their next assignment.
Take it outside
It might not be as fast or convenient for busy parents, but Robinson says YouTube videos and short breaks aren’t as effective as 20-30 minutes of exercise outside.
“Outside is nice,” Robinson said. “Getting in nature maybe once or twice a day when they can have a PE or recess experience.”
It not only gives kids a breath of fresh air, it also gives their eyes a break from the screens.
If you have the energy, check out this family workout by Power Kids Sports and Fitness.
If you're feeling inspired, check out this obstacle course Suzanne Barker made for her kids in her yard.
Exercise improves kids’ physical and mental health, and also helps them focus Robinson said.
“Exercise is a time when the brain has neuroplasticity, meaning that it becomes more flexible or teachable,” Robinson said.
Robinson, a mother of two, said not getting enough exercise can open the door for some serious problems.
“I think school burnout is big right now,” Robinson said. “Screen addiction, anxiety, ADHD, anger, depression. The list goes on.”
Robinson is a contributor to Fort Worth Moms, which has a number of useful and informative articles on health, education and exercise.