As children return to school and classrooms find some sense of normalcy, it’s essential to continue with social distancing to keep everyone safe. Thankfully, physical activities can easily be performed while kids remain socially distant, especially in large spaces like a gym or outdoors. A few activities are better suited to safety, which we will explore in this article. Physical activity is an essential part of children’s daily routine, and they should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. Incorporating physical activities into their school or after school routine will ensure all children stay healthy and fit.
According to the Center for Disease Control, kids are actually recommended to participate in 60 minutes of activity a day. Many kids don’t reach that marker, so naturally building it into their day is a great idea. Incorporating physical activities into the school day and afterschool programs can have significant benefits for children. Even if kids are distance learning, they can participate in physical activity classes online. Exercising has a wide variety of benefits for kids, including:
Even though you’re back on site, you might not return to all the regular physical activities you used to facilitate for the kids. Since social distancing measures are in place to keep everyone safe, you’ll have to extend the same thoughtfulness to the activities you plan. Physical exercise can still be done while kids keep a distance from each other. There are many options that the kids will enjoy and that will give them all the same benefits they are used to from gym class.
Yoga is no longer just for adults. It can be an excellent exercise for children and adolescents, helping them with strength, flexibility, and effective breathing exercises. Yoga is a great fitness idea for after school programs because it will help kids calm down after their busy school day and transition into homework or playtime in a relaxed manner. If you have space, try taking your yoga class outside. Otherwise, spread out the mats before the children arrive so that they are correctly socially distanced. Yoga can be done with facemasks on, and the only equipment you need is a mat. But if you don’t have mats, a soft floor is okay too.
Even if dancing was not a part of your physical education as a child, it should be now. Dance is a great way to work up a sweat and get your heart pumping. It’s also fun and will keep children and teens entertained. You can let the kids do their own freestyle dancing while staying distanced or teach them a routine to learn. Dancing is a great physical activity that can be done in a safe way.
Kids will love workout wheels, and they can be done safely too. Create a virtual workout wheel that you can share with the children on a projected screen, then let them “spin” to see what activity they have to do. Make sure the kids are standing distanced from each other and choose only actions that the kids can do in their space. Here are a few good ideas of physical exercises the kids can do in place:
If you have an outdoor space available to you, or even a large gym space, then some track and field activities are a great idea for social distancing. Kids can take turns running for set distances or times while maintaining enough space between them. Pair off students into groups with similar abilities and see how far they can run during set time periods. The kids in the group can take turns so that while one is running, the other can recover.
Some of the field sports might be an excellent option as well. Students can safely practice long jumping while keeping a safe distance. Another option might be to have the kids try their hand at shotput or one of the other throwing activities. If you engage in these activities, just make sure you’re properly sanitizing any equipment used between students.
If there is anything kids love, it’s a good obstacle course. Getting kids to run around and move is easy when there’s an obstacle course involved. Even better if you time everyone, so they can see who is completing it the fastest. If it can be done safely, have the kids help you set the course up. Or set it up before their arrival and then explain how it works when they come to class. If you have a larger group, try making a few different courses and dividing them into small groups. Obstacle courses are great because kids can take turns and stay properly distanced on the sidelines. They don’t have to involve any objects kids would touch, making it a safe and easy activity option.
Much like yoga and dance, students can participate in kickboxing while staying in one position the whole time. Kids and teens will both enjoy the rigors of kickboxing. It’s a great cardio activity that will get their heart pumping and strengthen their muscles simultaneously. Kickboxing can be great for teens, especially because you can incorporate self-defense training with the lesson. Show the students different ways they can defend themselves with kickboxing maneuvers.
Kids need to stay active to stay healthy, just like adults do. But getting children to move or exercise can sometimes be challenging, especially when team sports might be dangerous. These activities will allow kids to stay socially distanced while still having fun and getting their daily exercise in. They will feel much better once they’ve done some physical activity after school or in gym class. Kids will be better suited to stay active and form healthy habits if they start young.
Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 large group physical activity resource. Skillastics® makes it easy to organize, motivate, and engage students to move, learn, and love it. Skillastics® is an innovative technique of play designed around an oversize mat where up to 100 children can play at one time. There are 13 different Skillastics® Activity Kit themes, ranging from general fitness, sport skill development, character enhancement, and academic integration, including STEM and nutrition. The newest layer of Skillastics® resources includes 30-Day Virtual Physical Activity programs, including Fitness, Martial Arts, and Yoga.
Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.