10 Tips to Help Parents and Children to Exercise During the COVID-19 Closures

We recently changed our editorial calendar to work on self improvement posts that may possibly help us to come out of the quarantine with better habits.  Today is one of those posts!

I know that many of us are working from home while homeschooling our children. It's tough, but we have to find ways to boost our spirits and come out stronger.  My children recently found a butterfly at the park.  They giggled as it flew around them. They tried to memorize the design and colors on its wings so that they could try to google and learn about it when we got home.  

Something interesting happened while they were researching it.  My older son reflected on how caterpillars isolate and come out as something completely different - as butterflies! He realized that even though he complains about isolating during the quarantine that it's an opportunity to come out as a butterfly.  Sometimes my children remind me about the good things in life. I have definitely been guilty of feeling sad about being quarantined, but his enthusiastic view of the world reminds me that we have an opportunity of exciting things on the other side. Indeed, imagine viewing the world as a caterpillar and then flying as a butterfly.  This is a great time to encourage healthy habits to evolve to be better versions of ourselves.   In today's post, I'll focus on ways to incorporate physical fitness into daily lives. I will also tell you about my husband's new 
Brilliant L Train Bicycle from Priority Bicycles that makes our family bicycle rides more fun!

1. Create daily P.E. time as part of homeschool. (Outcome: Exercise is a part of daily life!)

Our district provides academic assignments for our son, but does not provide guidance on P.E.  Not only is he missing out on exercise from P.E. class, but he also misses two recess periods where he exercises.  We added a rule that our son needs to exercise for a minimum of 60 minutes daily. He may split it into three 20-minute sessions, two 30-minute sessions, or one 60-minute session. It's his choice. We are easy going about the exercise as long as it is something that gets his heart rate up.

2. Play movement games. (Outcome: Exercise is fun and there are many different ways to keep moving!)

Play fun movement games at home. For instance, my children love the Garbage Collector game that burns serious calories!  They place pillows in a line in the center of our playroom. They then place all of their stuffed animals on the pillow.  Each child stays on one side. They then have to throw the stuffed animals onto the other person's side. They keep throwing them back and forth until the timer is up. The person with the fewest number of stuffed animals on their side is the winner.  My children love this game! It gets their heart rate up and they are sweaty after a 20 minute session.

3. Go on bike rides (Outcome: Exercise is fun, plus this is an eco-friendly activity that may prepare them to ride their bikes to school in the future so that you are able to skip the car pickup line! Depending on your location, you may even be able to bike to local stores or the library!)

My husband and son invested in good bicycles when my son entered kindergarten. They biked to school almost daily  throughout all of elementary school.  When my son was in kindergarten, they used a bike trailer.  

Toward the end of kindergarten, my son rode his own bicycle next to my husband.  The school was 1.5 miles away from our home. Our son rode 3 miles/day round trip. My husband took him in the morning and then went back in the afternoon to pick him up for a total of 6 miles/day round trip.  There were three major benefits that we reflect on:
  • Our son learned healthy habits: Our son viewed physical fitness as a practical part of life and still enjoys riding a bicycle and being active outside
  • We skipped the nightmare known as the car pickup line: The walkers/bikers were released at 2:55pm. The students in the car pickup line were released at 3:10pm.  My son was always happy that he didn't have to wait in the cafeteria for the car pickup line since kids had to sit quietly and got in trouble if they talked. My husband and I appreciated that we didn't have to wait in the seemingly never ending car line.
  • We were eco-friendly: If you add up 5 years worth of trips to/from school, my husband and son rode a couple of thousand miles of bicycles instead of driving. The eco-friendly effort adds up over time!
Our oldest son now attends a school that is across a highway without sidewalks, so we now drive him to school. However, he still enjoys bicycle rides for fun and exercise.   If you follow regularly, there is a large age gap between our children. Our youngest son is a preschooler who is learning to ride a bike now. We hope to have him ready to bike to kindergarten and hope for many happy years to come of riding bicycles to school.  In preparation for this, we have a little 12" bicycle for him to practice.  My husband also got a new bicycle that is meant to last for many years - the Brilliant L Train from Priority Bicycles. I have to tell you about this bicycle because it is so amazing!

Here is a quick overview from their website:
"Designed by Priority's founder Dave Weiner, in collaboration with Brilliant Bicycle Co, the new L Train commuter bicycle will take you anywhere you need to go, with ease. Its chromoly frame is light and agile, and the grease and rust free Gates Carbon belt drive paired with an internal 7 gear hub rides for thousands of miles without ever needing a tune up.
  • Gates Carbon Belt Drive
  • Shimano 7-Speed Internal Hub
  • Lightweight Chromoly Frame
  • Freewheel with Front and Rear Shimano V-brakes
  • Commuter Style Handlebars
  • Puncture Resistant 32mm tires
The Brilliant L Train is an ideal fit for that rider looking for a nimble, quicker bicycle with larger gear range to tackle any commute or leisure riding."

This bicycle is easy to order online here.  They ship it to your doorstep and provide the tools that you need to assemble it. We assembled it rather quickly and found the process to be easy.

They produced helpful instructional videos to watch online and help assemble the bicycles. We were so excited for our bicycle to arrive that we watched the instructional videos before it arrived. When it arrived, we were able to quickly and easily assemble it.  For instance, here is a quick collage that shows my husband assembling a tire, pedals, seat, and reflectors.

We also ordered the optional fenders and assembled those quickly. 

This Brilliant L Train Bicycle from Priority Bicycles is amazing! We will quickly able to figure out why it has such excellent reviews.  We especially liked the Gates Carbon Belt Drive, which is both quiet and smooth.  The gear selector is quick and the available gears provide a range of speeds ideal for a commuter bike.  

Priority Bicycles offers a wide array of accessories for their bikes and we chose to add fenders.  We bike in all but severe weather and the fenders come in handy.  They also offer a kickstand, basket, and lights.  As our needs change, we are confident that Priority Bicycles has us covered, from purchase to installation.

The Brilliant L Train Bicycle from Priority Bicycles is not only great for commuting, but also cruising through the park.  My husband had a great time on his first ride through nearby trails.  The lightweight construction and choice of gears made the ride almost effortless. 

4. Take daily walks together. (Outcome: Practice healthy habits and bond together as a family.)
It's so easy to feel like you see each other all day long during the quarantine. However, it's not really quality time if you are busy working and doing other tasks. We find that going out for a walk together is a great way to give each other our undivided attention.  We usually walk 2 to 3 miles with our youngest in our jogging stroller.  We let him out of the stroller at a grassy park area so that he's able to run around. Our family has bonded a lot with our daily walks.  It's something that we plan to continue even after the quarantine is over.

5. Invest in indoor exercise equipment for rainy days or when the sun is too strong during the day. (Outcome: Practice healthy habits, ease anxiety through exercise even on rainy days, and possibly let your children virtually explore the world.)
We bought a treadmill that allows us to virtually run through different areas around the world.  For my me, I actually don't use the feature because I like having the treadmill to run during the day when the Texas sun is strong.  I'm able to fit a few extra miles into my day by running inside when the sun is strong or it is raining.

My son loves the virtual travel feature to run through destinations that he studies at school.  The treadmill allows him to combine P.E. and social studies in a fun way.

6. Go on local hikes together. (Outcome: Practice healthy habits and bond together as a family.)
Similar to our daily walks, we also enjoy going on short hikes together. We have a local park with trails.  So far, we've found that other hikers have been respectful of social distancing on the trails that we visited. Similar to our walks, the local hikes are a fun way to exercise and bond. 

7. Speed cleaning.  (Outcome: Clean your house quickly while burning calories.)
We've always cleaned our own house, but I know that many friends who hire part-time cleaning help have been out of luck during the quarantine. Everyone has to clean their own house.  One way to make it fun is to have large speed cleaning drills. We play music to dance and sing while we clean as quickly as possible for 10 to 20 minute speed cleaning drills.  If you are familiar with the meme, "It's gonna be May!", this is one of our favorite songs for speed cleaning. We also love, "Old Town Road." 

8. Do a strength training exercise challenge together. (Outcome: Bond while strengthening muscles.)
Spend a few minutes a day on a challenge such as a plank challenge. This make only take <3 minutes/day, but it's fun to increase your time over a month to see results! We love that large challenges like this are quick, fun, and encourage our children to always pursue self improvement even if it's in a large way.

9. Meditate with an app. (Outcome: Possibly reduce anxiety, especially during this challenging COVID-19 crisis.)
I didn't meditate until I was in my 40's. I found yoga to be boring. I thought that it wasn't for me. However, my oldest son likes to meditate and found the Headspace app that he recommended to me. I was more open minded than usual about meditation since I wanted to support my son's interest. It turns out that the Headspace app made meditation more accessible to me. I really like it. We use it for <5 or 10 minutes a day and it helps to ease our anxiety.

10. Get up and move throughout the day. (Outcome: Improve your health and possibly reduce anxiety, especially during this challenging COVID-19 crisis.)
It's so tempting to sit at a computer for hours at a time. Work builds up quickly and it feels good to push through checklists and tasks. Children also sometimes want to finish school work as quickly as possible. However, set a timer to periodically get up to move around, stretch, and drink water. It's not healthy to sit for extensive periods of time.  

I hope that these tips help you to find ways to exercise with your children during the quarantine.  As I mentioned earlier, my son pointed out that caterpillars go about their daily lives without even realizing that they will get a time of isolation in which they eventually come out as butterflies that get to fly through the world. It's pretty cool!  Let's all find ways to use this time of isolation with our families to come out better on the other side!  Physical fitness is an excellent goal in itself, but also helps us to have more energy to be successful in other areas of life as well.