How to keep the kids active when they’re home all day

All kids’ sport in Australia has been abandoned for now, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them go climb-the-walls-crazy.

Family life has changed dramatically as a result of coronavirus containment measures.

Weeknights and weekends spent ferrying kids to and from extra-curricular activities and sport are on hold indefinitely.

So how do you redirect kids’ energy to activities they can enjoy from the safety of home during the COVID-19 lockdown?

“It’s a tough time for sport, but helping our kids to stay active – and being active ourselves – is just as important as ever,” says Sport Australia acting chief executive Rob Dalton.

How much physical activity do kids need each day?

Australian physical activity guidelines recommend children aged 5 to 12 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day.

“Sport and physical activity can contribute to making kids happier, healthier, more resilient and socially engaged,” says Rob.

“There are numerous studies to show it can also impact positively on their other learning skills, including their academic education.”

Byron Dodds, of multi-sport program Ready Steady Go Kids, says sport helps kids develop their gross and fine motor skills, as well as social abilities such as resilience.

kids and exercise

Why exercise is crucial in a world changed by coronavirus

Rob says staying active can be particularly therapeutic amid the uncertainty right now.

“Sport and active games can provide an important balance, physically and mentally, for you and your children,” he says.

Byron says physical activity helps the brain cope better with stress and anxiety.

“So making sure daily exercise comes into your routine in the current health crisis is crucial,” he says.

How parents can step up for their kids

Research shows eight in 10 kids don’t get the recommended hour of physical activity a day – but 77 per cent of children with an active parent are active themselves, says Rob.

“You can be their most important sporting role model,” he says.

Byron says now is the perfect opportunity for parents to get out and play with their kids.

“Shoot hoops with them, bowl them a cricket ball, kick the footy, learn a dance with them, practise those gymnastic or acrobatic tricks and do some strengthening,” he says.

Get creative in your own backyard

Make it easy and enticing

“Encourage them outside, put some sporting equipment where they will see and use it,” says Rob.

Get on board some wheels

“Get the kids out and about riding their bikes or scooters or using their skateboards/rollerblades in the driveway or up and down the road,” Byron says.

Turn your backyard into a sporting venue

“Set up a game of backyard cricket, play basketball, frisbee, throw and catch, jump on the trampoline, play piggy in the middle, kick a ball, chase bubbles, pull out the balls, bats, hula hoops, yoga or Pilates mats,” says Byron.

Mix it up and think outside the square

“Use balloons for balloon volleyball, tennis or soccer,” Byron says.

“Or build some obstacle courses the kids can do indoors or outdoors with household items to get them to crawl over and under things.

“Or have races in the backyard – relay races such as jumping, hopping, frog jumps, running backwards, walking sideways, or use a pillowslip and do sack races.”

Online programs to keep kids fit and active

While we’re often trying to reduce the amount of time kids spend online, digital connections can also sometimes be our friend.

Here are some great resources to inspire movement among the kids:

  • PE With Joe – AKA the Body Coach – are free 30-minute workouts for kids held at 9am weekdays UK time, which is 7pm AEST. Don’t worry if you miss the live workout – they’re saved to YouTube so you can get the kids involved when it works for you.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga – help the kids find their zen amid all this chaos with these fun yoga and mindfulness sessions.
  • Sport Australia’s Tiny Trainer Challenges provide fun and creative ideas of how to keep children active and healthy at home.
  • Sport Australia’s Playing for Life Activity Cards provide game-based activities and are easily adapted to play at home to help create a safe, inclusive and challenging environment for children.
  • The Karma Class provides free breathing exercises, mindfulness activities and yoga classes designed for kids and family tips to remain calm, healthy and strong.
  • Netfit Virtual Clinics is a collaboration between Netfit Netball and Netball Australia to deliver live and free netball clinics between 9am and 3pm.
  • Personal trainer Sam Wood offers live workouts each day via Facebook, dedicating Tuesdays and Thursdays to kid-friendly routines.
  • No Limits Basketball provides free daily drills and skills clinics at 6pm.
  • Aussie Rules fans can check out the Footy at Home videos on YouTube for tips from their favourite footy stars.
  • Ready Steady Go Kids are offering fun at home online clinics to promote gross motor fundamentals.

Essential coronavirus information

Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, call the 24/7 hotline on 1800 675 398. You can also use the Healthdirect symptom checker.

Instant Consult offers on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals.

For the latest official health and government advice, visit these websites:

Written by Claire Burke.