By Greg Bach
Young athletes used to busy schedules crammed with practices and games suddenly have lots of free time at home due to the Coronavirus that has shut down their beloved sports activities nationwide.
And parents have the new challenge of keeping their home-bound kids entertained, active and healthy during these stressful times.
We checked in with Stephanie Mansour, a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has appeared on The Today Show, Dr. Oz and CNN and hosts “Step It Up with Steph” on PBS, for some family-friendly fitness tips to use in the home to conquer boredom and promote healthy activity.
“Now is a great time to make exercise and eating more creative and fun for the whole family,” Mansour says.
Take a look at these innovative ways Mansour shared for getting you and your children moving while staying at home:
Workout wonder: “Challenge your kids to do 100 jumping jacks in place every hour,” Mansour says. “You can even give them a chart where they can place stars on the days when they complete this five times, eight times, and so on.”
Create an obstacle course: Set up toys and have the kids run around them in a particular order. “You can do this while playing music and then when the song changes, they run in the opposite direction around the obstacle course,” Mansour says.
Model behavior: “Parents can model active behavior and exercise with their kids,” Mansour says. “This is an excellent time to broadcast a workout video on TV in the family room and exercise in front of your kids, and even encourage them to get their own mat and follow along next to you.”
Duplicating dances: Now is a great time for exploring ways to inspire children who are overweight to embrace activity. Mansour suggests watching a dance video on YouTube and encouraging kids to try and follow the routine. “If an overweight child doesn't like traditional sports or exercising, this would be a creative way to get them to exercise without them even knowing it,” she says.
Focus on the fun: “Kids love games,” Mansour says. “So turn exercise into a game. Whoever completes the most challenges in the day wins and gets to wear a crown the next day.”
Motivational moments: Parents can inspire their kids with mini challenges throughout the day, Mansour says. Parents can play their child’s favorite song, which signals it’s time for 10 squats, 10 pushups and a 10-second plank, for example. Of course, mom and dad can join in on these mini challenges, too!
Healthy habits: Many children have a tendency to munch on unhealthy snacks during long days at home watching television and playing video games. But the less they see of them the less likely they’ll be to indulge. “Keep the healthy food at the front of the fridge, cabinet and counter,” Mansour says. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Kitchen helpers: This is a terrific time to get kids involved in activities that they haven’t had time for before, such as assisting with dinner preparations. “Ask your kids to find healthy recipes that they want to help cook for dinner,” Mansour says. “You can create desserts from frozen fruit, make homemade ice cream from bananas, or make muffins and add protein powder to them.”
Family affair: With long days and high stress, sometimes it can be difficult to find the energy and motivation to exercise. But if it’s a family affair, each family member can help support and encourage the other. “As a parent, you could ask your child for help and maybe you create a family signal,” Mansour says. “If you see someone in the family putting their hands on top of their head, this could be the signal that they need extra motivation or they're feeling down. To combat this, everyone in the house starts pumping their arms up in the air 20 times to increase energy and blood flow. It's hard to watch someone do this without doing it yourself, so when someone in the room does this it'll encourage you to do it, too. Just changing your physical state can help to change your mental state.”
Stephanie Mansour, host of Step It Up with Steph on PBS, offers a free 21-day challenge for women who're looking for a simple exercise plan, easy food plan, and confidence boosting tips. Join for free HERE.Stephanie Mansour Fitness Health Family Fun Nutrition