• Kenneth Mims

12 Tips for Staying Active While We Learn at Home

We appreciate all that our students, families, and staff members are doing to make sure that we keep students learning. Here are some tips to help the whole family stay active as our students learn at home:

  1. Participate in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. Activities should be moderate or vigorous in intensity, or a combination of both, several days a week.

  2. Focus on activities that strengthen muscles, strengthen bones, and provide aerobic benefits. Each type of activity should be included during exercise for a minimum of three days per week and should be appropriate for a child’s age and ability level.  Examples of muscle-focused activities are lifting weights, climbing stairs, heavy gardening, walking hills, and push-ups and sit-ups. Kids strengthen bones when they hop, skip, jump rope, and run. Aerobic activity involves running, cycling, and any activity that raises the heart rate and increases respiration.

  3. Reach your target heart rate during activity. Calculate your maximum heart rate (220 – your age = maximum heart rate). Your target hear rate should be 50%-70% of your maximum heart rate for moderate intensity activities (maximum heart rate x .5 = target heart rate) and 70%-85% for vigorous intensity activities (maximum heart rate x .7 = target heart rate). To check your resting heart rate, take two fingers and place on the soft part of your neck under the jawline. Take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply that number by 6. You also can download an instant heart rate app on your device.

  4. Incorporate a variety of leisure, lifestyle, recreational, and lifetime activities.  Offer a variety of options. Activities could include walking, biking, raking leaves, playing active games like hopscotch and four square, jumping rope, playing H-O-R-S-E on a home basketball court, ping-pong, yoga, Pilates, or martial arts. Remember, if you’re out in the community— on the sidewalk, at a park, or on a walking trail— make sure to observe the 6-foot rule, keeping your distance from others.

  5. Give your child chores requiring physical exertion. Keep your child’s strength, coordination, and maturity in mind. Mowing the grass, washing the car, walking the family dog, and working in the garden are all good examples of kid- and teen-friendly chores.

  6. Limit sedentary activities and substitute physical activity instead. Digital home learning requires screen time so breaks for physical activity are essential. During a TV show, stretch or participate in body-resistance exercises— exercises you can do with your own body weight such as lunges, squat thrusts, leg and arm raises, step-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. Challenge the family to see who can do the most jumping jacks or pushups during commercials. Limiting video games, television, and social media will have a positive impact on children’s mental, physical, and social well-being. Check out tools for creating an active home with family-friendly activities from OPEN (Online PE Network).

  7. Offer flexible seating options that focus on balance and abdominal strength as children complete home lessons. Standing at the kitchen counter or sitting on an exercise ball during lessons are great ways to improve core strength. 

  8. Integrate five-minute “brain break” activities during each lesson. Plan short stretching activities that work on flexibility or cross-body exercises. This cross-body focus involves exercises that cross an imaginary line that runs from our head to toes and divides our body down the center. Touching your toes (right fingers to left toes) is an example. This type of activity will reduce stress and increase attention and productivity.

  9. Provide opportunities and encourage physical activity. Model active lifestyles and participate in activities together as a family. Everyone in the family will benefit! Have equipment readily available to encourage outdoor play. For instance, keep a tub of jump ropes, recreational games, and various types of balls on hand.

  10. Plan family fun around physical activity. Create easy-to-use activity calendars and have the whole family participate.

  11. Have a plan for bad weather. Participate in active play with gaming systems that focus on fitness, indoor games such as Twister, or set your kitchen timer and walk up and down your stairs.

  12. Most importantly, remember to have fun! Physical activities should be enjoyable, engaging, and include structured and unstructured play for all.

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