In order to reduce the in-community spread of COVID-19, the Australian government has implemented a policy of social distancing. Schools have been closed, and professional sports seasons also have been suspended, which has a direct impact on the lifestyle of children and teenagers. Although it is urgent to reduce the incidence of coronavirus, if children and adolescents cannot get access to exercise at home for a long time during COVID-19 closure, it may lead to weight gain and a series of health problems.
It is important to participate in regular exercise, especially against a backdrop of pandemic as COVID-19, where regular exercise can boost immunity. However, parents across the country find it a challenge to protect their children from the virus and encourage physical exercise at home, especially when parents are working from home.
“I think my life has been very busy recently. I not only have to urge my child to learn online lessons at home, but also need to take care of my child’s down mood at home and her health problems. I still have my own work to do as well, so it is quite pressing,” said by Weiying Gu, a single mother who has been in Australia for 4 years.
How do the closure of Community Sports clubs and school closures affect the problem of children’s obesity？
We know that Australia has a serious problem with childhood obesity, bringing challenges to children’s eating environment and physical exercise due of The closing of schools and shelter-in-place orders. Families frequently buy food of ultra-processed and Calorie-dense, which may exacerbate the epidemic of childhood obesity and increase disparities in obesity risk. In addition, in terms of physical exercise, the policy of social segregation has also reduced the opportunities for children to exercise, especially for urban children living in apartments. And the closure of community clubs has greatly increased their life with screen time and snaking at home, thus giving rise to overweight and obesity problems.
Richard Hinds is a regular contributor to weekly panel show on the ABC called Offsiders and an advocate for community-based sports. He stated that “There is a very grave danger that children will develop poor habits during this period when they are not able to exercise at school or sports clubs. Many children are now spending almost the entire day online doing schoolwork at home and then gaming instead of playing outside.” Meanwhile，“disconnection from clubs might mean even more young people leave active sport altogether which could have a major impact on already alarming rates of obesity.”
What’s more, children are dealing with increasing boredom and stress, which is another cause of overeating.
Help children go back to sports safely
Although the government are easing of restrictions, numerous outdoor activities are still under restriction. People still ought to maintain a certain social distance to let children do more exercise in the safest way. Even though they are in a narrow space, physical exercise remains a necessity.
You can encourage your children to play outdoors, such as cycling together with other family members, which is beneficial for both their physical and mental health. Meanwhile, company from family members will make your child more active and motivated to exercise. You can also make good use of your rest time to do some simple stretching exercises to help your child stay healthy and focused. Watching online exercise videos with your children is another attractive option. For example, NSW department of education publishes GetActive@Home programs every week for students to watch and follow at home, which greatly helps children keep exercising. We also need to reduce the source of stress for children. Since isolation is difficult for children, children need to communicate with friends. Thus we can enable them to interact with friends through Facetime or Messenge. Specifing a sports competition will let them promote the process of sports in the form of competition.
In the meantime, Office of Sport and American Heart Association have organized some resources to help parents exercise at home in order to keep their children vigorous during the period of COVID-19.
School camps from home, video from office of sport, NSW Government
With regard to the community sports club, Richard Hinds also promised that it will continue to keep in touch with the children during the lock-up period, and hoped that the children would continue to maintain their enthusiasm for sports after the end of the epidemic.
“The best way is to stay connected with kids during the lockdown period. Our local clubs are sending a lot of messages to kids, holding online training sessions, skills contests and Tik Tok competitions and so on.”
“We hope this will keep sport in their minds and when they are allowed out to play outdoors again they will be excited about coming back to our clubs and reuniting with their friends again.“
The good news is that the Australian Institute of Sport(AIS) and Sport Australia will successive rebooting sport，however we must based on all the advice by the government and health authorities.
Why is it important for children to exercise during the closure of the virus?
Exercise is essential for everyone, including children, and maintaining regular physical exercise in a safe environment is an important strategy for a healthy life. Proper physical exercise can benefit them a lot.
– Prevent the emergence of diseases such as obesity. Children keep sitting at home for a long time and eat too much high-calorie and high-fat food, leading to obesity. Doing exercise will not only help them lose weight, but also promote their health.
– Boost the immune system. Regular exercise has immune-boosting benefits, which can help children fight infection during COVID-19 and flu pandemics.
– Reduce stress and anxiety. On one hand, children and adolescents may bring about stress and emotional instability during long periods of closure. On the other hand, exercise can help children vent their emotions and reduce the negative effects of stress.
Healthy and balanced eating habits
Dietitians Association of Australia provides parents with nutritional tips and advices during self-isolation, which offers a good opportunity to learn how to keep a healthy diet with their children during home isolation. We need to combine healthy eating habits with regular physical exercise to help children stay healthy during school closures.
Exercise has obvious benefits for health to adults, adolescents and children. Taking measures beneficial to exercise can minimize the risk of childhood obesity and other diseases. According to World Health Organization’s recommendation, the goal of both children and adolescents should be keeping active for at least 60 minutes per day.
For more information on Coronavirus, please keep an eye on Department of Health from Australian Government. For international updates, please keep an eye on the World Health Organization.
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