Covid Safe Team

The Importance of Getting Children Back to Physical Activity

For most of us, it has probably been a very long and strange few months. The lockdown has undoubtedly changed most aspects of our lives in ways that we couldn’t have fathomed even six months ago, and yet here we are. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel at last as the country attempts to get back on its feet; and whilst we may have had to wait a little longer to reopen our doors, that time is rapidly approaching and we cannot wait! (Our staff REALLY need some outside contact, it’s getting worrying!) Now more than ever it is really important that we all think about our health in all its forms, and this is especially true for our children. Months of lockdown will have given so many of us the opportunity to sit comfortably for a lot longer than usual. But now is the time to start breaking that habit!

Recovery Starts with a Single Step

Take the first step

Recovery might seem like a strange word to choose, but honestly, it couldn’t be more relevant. Everything around us is attempting to recover from this pandemic, from businesses and our economy to our work / life balance and physical health. It can be easy to overlook just exactly how much we need to recover from what may have felt like an extended holiday for some (who probably don’t have children). But there is plenty for us all to do before we can find some normality, let alone good personal health again.

The problems we face as adults in these regards are often easier for us to fix than for our children. We can just pop to the gym when possible, or go out for a run. But children don’t have these kinds of freedoms, especially younger children, and this is why we need to make sure we are enabling them to access physical activities when the opportunity is there.

You may be wondering if your children have been happy to have so much free time, and whilst they have probably loved being home with you as far as free time goes honestly, the answer is probably no. Psychologists agree that children thrive on structured routines and the challenges that education in various forms provides. So whilst they may seem happy to have more TV or playtime, at some level they want to get back to their routines. So, what can we do and why is now the right time to do it?

Development is a Permanent Part of Childhood

We have previously discussed the importance of physical activity for children’s development, and just because we have been in lockdown doesn’t stop this from being true. Kids need to be moving and the restrictions we’ve been living under, whilst essential, will have definitely limited this. So now is the time to get them moving again! Getting out for walks or playing sports with family and friends in your bubble are all great for everyone. But now that the government has given sports clubs a timetable to reopen, more structured sport is definitely worth considering.

The government has recently been placing more emphasis on a report released by the Chief Medical Officer that focuses on the minimum amount of physical activity we all should be doing. Within it, there is a specific focus on variety within the kinds of activity children undertake:

“Children and young people should engage in a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscular fitness, and bone strength.”

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines – January 2020 – Page 25

Now we know this report was written from an objective standpoint, but honestly, what better sport can you think of to offer the variety and range discussed here than gymnastics?

Help Fix the Lockdown Blues

One of the other major developmental benefits of gymnastics and sporting activities in general that we’ve been shouting from the rooftops is that they aid in boosting mental wellbeing. Now more than ever it is vital that we all develop an awareness for the mental health wellbeing of ourselves and others. The lockdown and general state of the world can be overwhelming for us all, even if we don’t necessarily feel it; and this can cause a steady decline in our mental health. Now before you say to yourself, ‘but I’m fine’ it’s important to realise that we all feel fine. Until we don’t.

This is the inherent problem with mental health, it can be very hard to be aware of it and tackle any problems preemptively. But children are naturally very resilient, so getting them back into fun activities and enjoying life whilst remaining safe is definitely going to go a long way to help strengthen their mental wellbeing. Something that, now more than ever, is very important to helping them grow and flourish.

To once again quote from the Chief Medical Officers report:

“In children and young people, regular physical activity is associated with improved learning and attainment, better mental health and cardiovascular fitness…”

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines – January 2020 – Page 7

Help Our Children to See the World isn’t Scary

One of the most overlooked side effects of the lockdown is how it affects the way in which children perceive the world they are growing up in. This is sadly something that we have seen first hand with our own children and the behavioural changes they have exhibited. Simply put, the new habits we’ve had to adopt can easily make the world seem like a very scary place for children. They lack the maturity to properly understand what a virus actually is and what this means for us all, so it’s very easy for them to start seeing all other people, including friends and family, as a threat. If that sounds far fetched, then just consider how many times you’ve told your children not to get too close or touch a loved one or their friends. How is that supposed to make them feel?

It can’t be emphasised enough how important it is for children to engage in peer to peer contact and conversation as this is the foundation of so many social skills that they are going to need in life. Sporting activities run by professional clubs, like Gym Bubbas, will enable children to interact with their peers in a safe environment and help them start to break down these mental barriers. It won’t take much for most children to resume playing and interacting with other children, but now our task is to ensure they remain safe whilst doing so.

For now, let us simply say that we are following all government advice and going above and beyond to ensure the safety of your children if they visit our gyms. In our next blog post, we will explore this topic in more depth and hopefully help belay any concerns or fears you may very understandably have.

In the meantime, please keep an eye on our Facebook pages for updates, stay well, and stay safe.