Could your kids power the electrical grid, if you could only figure out how to tap that energy? Someday, all the hours spent cooped up at home will be a memory, not a daily reality. But if your children are bouncing off the walls with schools and day care still closed and summer coming, here are five active ideas to safely channel their energy. Pandemic or not, preschoolers benefit from active play throughout the day, and children ages 6 to 17 should rack up at least 60 minutes of activity daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since regular activity boosts health and lifts mood, everyone stands to benefit.
Pick a card
Annelieke Rietsema, an employee health coach and fitness specialist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, suggests this simple strategy. Take a pack of playing cards and assign different exercises to each suit. For example, hearts could be jumping jacks or bear crawl; diamonds could be burpees or somersaults (if you have room); spades could be mountain climbers or cat-cow; clubs could be knee pushups or squats. Now shuffle or mix up the cards (face down), then start going through the deck. Kids do the number of each exercise on cards numbered 2 to 9. They do 10 of an exercise if a card is an ace, jack, queen, or king. So, a jack of hearts in the spades suit could equal 10 mountain climbers. For an exercise without discrete repetitive movements, like the bear crawl, try assigning a number of seconds based on the card selected (a five of hearts equals five seconds of bear crawl).
Children can do the shuffling and assign exercise choices, even picking simpler or harder exercises depending on age or ability.
Top of the hour
Five-minute or 10-minute energy burns at the top of each hour may help keep the peace. Have kids set a timer and choose easy exercises: running in place, jumping jacks, skipping rope, practicing sit-ups and squats. Children can compete with each other or with friends — from one week to the next, is it getting easier to do certain exercises? Can you do more than you could before?
Challenge younger children to think up and enact the moves of animals and other creatures: waddle like a duck, small hops like a