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With schools closed all over the country, parents and teachers are working together to help kids continue to learn virtually. After all, academic progress doesn't stop just because classrooms are empty. Parents are learning how to help their children complete online coursework and building new home routines for school-time so the stay-at-home duration doesn't slide into summer vacation too early.
However, keeping your children indoors and quietly studying all day is not your best option. Children and teens need physical activity, both for their health and for their ability to focus and avoid learning loss. The CDC lets us know that there are both significant benefits to physical activity in youth and serious consequences for sedentary days.
Below are some helpful points on the importance of physical activity when students are learning online.
Exercise improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which increases thought capabilities. Children and teens will remember their coursework better and have an easier time engaging in lessons if they are allowed to be active for an hour or two each day. It's important to remember that elementary schools hold recess in the middle of the day for a reason, and even older kids have sports or PE to get their blood and brains pumping during the day.
Physical activity is also essential for learning and development. The more children play and do sports, the more they learn to control their bodies. Physical activity helps children's bodies to grow in a healthy way and provides the structure to build greater coordination. Physical activity provides invaluable experience for younger children learning fine motor control, while older children often find physical activity helps to work through difficult problems.
Children who are active daily build a foundation of physical strength and coordination that will last the rest of their lives. Teens with good muscle structure from regular exercise will have an easier time staying healthy and fit as adults. Regular activity helps children to regulate and understand their digestion; eating more healthily, and stopping when they're full, and the exercise can prevent childhood with problems. Help your children to grow up with strong, healthy bodies that send clear signals about food and wellness.
Regular physical health also sets your children up for protection against long-term health concerns. Physical activity can prevent cardiorespiratory problems, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity later in life. By helping your children to exercise now, you can help to protect them from these illness types for decades in the future.
Children also need exercise to maintain good mental health. Lethargy can lead to childhood anxiety and adolescent depression. The reason for this is because both anxiety and depression can be physical conditions. Anxiety occurs in someone with too much energy who is constantly holding themselves back to remain inactive. Depression results when the body produces less and less energy because of low muscle tone and lack of physical activity to get the blood pumping.
Exercise can, in some cases, completely defeat both anxiety and depression, especially in younger people who have few emotional triggers. Simply entering a cardio state automatically reverses a physical depressive state.
Finally, it's worth noting that physical activity gets easier every day. Physical activity tells the body to process food more efficiently and provide energy for more activity. Every day that your child spends a few hours playing or doing sports, they will have more energy the next day, and the day after that. This goes for you, too, parents if you're feeling low during this at-home period.
Parents, the average school day for your children involves recess, lunch, walking from class-to-class, and PE or sports in addition to academic classes. So don't keep your kids cooped up indoors for 8 solid hours of lessons. Remember that physical activity enhances memory, problem-solving, and energy as well as providing a fun break from serious work.