It will likely be a while before school sports and recreational physical activities are allowed again. Picture: Pexels
It will likely be a while before school sports and recreational physical activities are allowed again. Picture: Pexels

Multiply your child's active time during and after lockdown

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jun 1, 2020

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Lockdown has given birth to fitness routines for many people, including families. 

While there is a gradual reopening of South African schools, it will likely be a while before school sports and recreational physical activities are allowed again. 

Parents should, therefore, encourage regular home workouts for their children, even after they have returned to school.

This is according to Anca Wessels, a Momentum Multiply expert in Biokinetics and Sports Message Therapy. She says that young people of all ages require daily physical activity to ensure their healthy growth and development. “Physical activity is very important for all of us, but especially so for kids and young people.

“In addition to improving their cardiovascular fitness, strengthening their bones and muscles, and reducing the risk of heart disease; creating healthy habits around physical activity from a young age will stay with your kids throughout their lives, setting them up for a healthier future.”

What counts as a “workout” – how much is enough? Wessels says that kids and teens between the ages of six and 17 should get a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. 

“These activities should include a combination of aerobic movements, strengthening exercises and stretches. A variety of exercises is essential to ensure a variety of muscles being used,” she notes, offering some examples of well-known exercises and stretches to incorporate.

PopUpGym co-founder Khethiwe Mlangeni says some of the things that can encourage kids to exercise is doing something simple and easy such as a going for a walk or slow-paced jog. If your little one is still a toddler, go out with them in a stroller or pram.

To make the session fun, she says, you can invest in exercise equipment for your child. Get them an exercise mat, skipping rope, age equivalent exercise equipment. Let your children see you exercising and make it look fun, showing them that you are enjoying exercising, and simply turn on music and just dance and have fun with the children.

Wessels says it’s important to remember that kids are creative and anything goes. Kids have amazing imaginations, so creating a playful environment is key. “For younger children, make sure that you include different colours and shapes, prompting a variety of movements when setting up at-home workout routines. A great idea is to attach strings to different coloured socks or balloons and hang them at different levels from the ceiling or outside patio. Play a game of jumping or punching to touch all the different heights.”

When it comes to unwilling teens, Wessels says, “as kids get older, it becomes more difficult to get them moving. For stubborn teens, a potential way around this is to incentivise them. Set up weekly goals for them to complete and they earn rewards such as cash or treats for being healthy, active and safe.” 

“Another fun way is to find something that excites them, like creating mini soccer goals or encouraging them to learn a fast-paced popular dance routine on YouTube or TikTok that they can share with their friends.”

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