By Jensen, Randy on March 25, 2020.
Self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19 does not mean having to stay confined inside, says Vickie Hazelwood of the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition.
“The Canadian 24-Hour Movement has set out guidelines for how youth and children can stay healthy, and part of that is through being active every day,” she says. “They recommend 60 minutes of active activity and play time every day for children and youth. Through activity we reduce our cortisol levels, and reduce stress. So it’s very important during this time.”
And for children younger than six years, the Canadian 24-Hour Movement guidelines recommend two hours of active, daily playtime, says Hazelwood.
“There are tons of great online resources and things that people can seek out for ideas,” she explains. “We know that when kids and youth are outside they tend to be more active. They play longer, sit less and move more when they are outside. Getting kids outside is a great way to get them active.
“That’s not to say we can’t get active in the home by building an obstacle course in the living room, or holding a dance party to their favourite songs, or doing some gymnastic routines inside. Those things can get them moving, but if they can get outside with appropriate physical distancing from other people in the neighbourhood that outdoor time is ideal.”
Hazelwood says being at home all day with the kids can lead to cabin fever for adults, too; which is another good reason to incorporate daily outdoor excursions into your routine while the COVID-19 crisis continues.
“It breaks up the day, and keeps getting that fresh air into our bodies,” she says. “I think we all end up getting along better once we have been out to have a change of scenery and a chance to play.”
Lethbridge residents are particularly fortunate that way, Hazelwood adds.
“Lethbridge has a lot of great walking trails and sledding hills, green space and paved pathways for people to enjoy,” she says. “If we focus on the walking paths, the river valley, there is a lot of areas where people can explore and have space from others, and get out for walks and play.”
Many studies throughout the years have spoken about how people these days are not active enough, and do not always spend enough quality time with their families while struggling to find the proper work-life balance. Hazelwood says that might be one part of the current crisis which could be viewed as potentially positive.
“I think this type of crisis helps us re-prioritize to focus on things that help us stay healthy, physically, mentally, emotionally,” she says. “Exercise and activity is a really big part of that.”
On Monday the City of Lethbridge advised residents that, while parks and trails remain open, they will not be allowed to use City benches, picnic tables, picnic shelters, washrooms, firepits, playground apparatuses or any other City structures in green spaces. The City is also discouraging group activities in outdoor parks and green spaces as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
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