COVID Connections offers Ways for families to thrive

COVID Connections offers Ways for families to thrive
Anita Peeples

Studies in the U.S. and Europe show kids today spend approximately eight hours a day sedentary.


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only one in three children are physically active every day. It isn’t uncommon for a kid to spend the majority of a school day sitting and staring at a computer screen, only to return home for even more screen time.

Now more than ever, it is important for parents to model healthy lifestyles and encourage kids to get active.

Parents and grandparents are right: Kids are less active and fit than they used to be. Studies in the U.S. and Europe show kids today spend approximately eight hours a day sedentary.

Overall, children’s sedentary behaviors have increased sharply in the last two decades. This is due, in part, to advancements in technology and widespread accessibility to home computers, game consoles and cell phones. All the while, the positive impacts of physical activity on child development are widely known.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined some of the benefits of regular exercise in children. These include but are not limited to increased academic performance, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved cardiorespiratory fitness, strong bones and muscles, and reduced risk for health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

At this time your children are home from school. They aren’t playing at recess or participating in sports. Even their friends are unavailable as we all practice social distancing at home. These factors challenge the CDC-recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children, but at the same time, kids are more free to play than ever with parents and siblings as their new playmates.

Enjoying active family play is beneficial for not only one’s health, but also family relationships. When you play catch, join a dance party or jump on the trampoline, you are making memories with your kids that will last a lifetime while also promoting their physical, social and emotional health.

Think of your typical day before the outbreak: School, work, sports, events and other plans made it difficult for you to enjoy quality time as a family. Now you have some extra time, and soon enough it will pass. Let’s seize this opportunity to form healthy habits, not necessarily exercises like push-ups, but fun family games that keep you moving, laughing and building bonds.

During this stay-at-home order, we challenge families to get outside, get moving and enjoy active family time. Here are some ways to get started:

Game: dodgeball tag

Three or more family members

A large ball with a soft surface

Have all players stand in a circle. Choose one player to stand in the center with the ball. This person is “it.” Ask the “it” player a question. It can be a fun question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be? It can be a homework question, riddle or something else. Be creative.

Once the “it” player answers, he/she throws the ball into the air. When the ball is thrown, all other players run away as fast as they can. When the “it” player catches the ball, all players must freeze in place. The “it” player then takes three strides in any direction to hit another player with the ball. The player hit is the next one “it.” Repeat.

Recipe: one-hour oats

1 ½ cup oats

1 ½ cup milk of choice

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Nuts, chocolate chips, chopped fruit (possible add-ins)

2 packets sweetener (optional)

In a mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients until incorporated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. During this time, go enjoy a physical activity with your family. Stir and enjoy.

Craft: DIY kite

One roll of contact paper

A ball of string

5 straws




Tape two straws together for the width of your kite. Tape three straws together for the height. Cross and secure the straws together with string in an “x” shape. Cut contact paper into two diamond shapes to fit your kite. Peel backing off of one diamond and place sticky side up. Press straws onto the sticky contact paper. Add second contact paper diamond. Decorate the outside of your kite. Loop string around each corner, then tie them together for the bridle. Add a ribbon tail.

Physical activity: backyard obstacle course

With items in your backyard, create an obstacle course. Use cones, jump ropes and bases to outline your path. Start a timer to see how quickly each member of your family can complete the course from start to finish.

Conversation starter: “What is your favorite way to exercise?”

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