Keeping Kids Active During Lockdown

Thomas Barr with young boy at track and field

Every April, Active School Week aims to promote physical activity in a fun, positive and inclusive way. It’s a great resource for teachers, helping them discover ways to energise the school day and reduce sedentary time. However, we all know schooling is a little different this year, and that due to the pandemic, teachers are under huge pressure. With that in mind, we spoke to Irish Olympian Thomas Barr, who has some great advice for parents who want to keep their kids active during lockdown.

The Best Medicine 

As well as building a career out of running, Thomas understands the mental benefits of staying active. “Exercise is some of the best medicine you can get”, he begins. “If you need head space, especially now when you’re stuck in the house, go for a walk or run outside in the fresh air. It makes a massive difference to mental health.”

Get Lost in Nature 

This goes for children too. “My parents were always very encouraging about getting us outside”, he says. “Remember, it shouldn’t be forced exercise, but more about having fun.” As restrictions hopefully begin to ease and we can travel county-wide, Thomas suggests finding a place to play in nature. “Look for somewhere scenic”, he says, “like a forest or river, and let your kids explore! It will build their physical confidence in the great outdoors.” 

Young boy climbing a tree

Wearables for Kids 

Of course, some families may not have the means to travel beyond their immediate environment. You can still do a ‘family mile’ together around your neighbourhood. Thomas suggests trying out kids’ wearables to encourage tech-savvy children to get outside. It may also create some healthy sibling rivalry! Fitbit, Garmin and VTech all offer junior versions of popular adult wearables. “Kids who love their tablets might need something like that to get them out of the house initially”, he notes. “It’s like anything when you’re trying to make or break a habit – you need those incentives. Once your child gets used to exercising, they may not need the wearable anymore.”

Indoor Fun

Another option (especially if the weather isn’t great) is to find kids’ workouts online. YouTube has a great selection. “There are yoga, Pilates and even circuit sessions designed for children”, says Thomas. “Or even just putting on music and letting them dance around the sitting room will work! Anything to get the heartrate going.” 

Find out more about Active School Week here

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