Using Activity to Relieve Academic StressClinical Expertise
by Maggie Maurice, CTRS, Brooks Pediatric Recreation | Oct 10, 2017
Now that the school year is in full swing, it’s time to look at the importance of play and physical activity to help relieve the stress of those busy school days!
The idea of play or physical activity has taken on a large role in our growing children’s lives. Play or physical activity creates an opportunity to learn in a free and relaxed environment. It gives children a chance to explore every part of their brain and imagination, while simultaneously working on social skills in a group environment. Between time in school and at night completing homework, children commit anywhere from 8-12 hours per day to learning. Finding times for breaks is extremely important as our children’s minds continue to grow. The CDC states that “students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory) and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior).” The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends about 60 minutes of physical activity for children, at least five days a week.
So how do we help our children find a balance between school and the recommended amount of physical activity each week? It’s much easier than you think! There are plenty of surprising ways to get moving. I have created the list below of fun, simple ways for you to incorporate physical activity into your child’s life.
- If your child takes the school bus, create a “walking school bus.” Take turns with other parents or older siblings to safely walk to the bus stop rather than drive. It’s a good way to get those extra steps in for the day.
- Go on a family walk. Right after school and right after dinner are very good times to help your child after a long school day. Try to walk before they sit down to complete their homework for the evening— you can even take the dog!
- Make chores fun and enjoyable. A few ways to bring some fun into chore time include playing music, putting on a mini-concert while vacuuming, putting on the timer and racing to finish chores first, pretending the dishes are animals while you’re cleaning them or anything else your imagination can dream up. The possibilities are endless.
- Do an activity challenge with the whole family, like a plank challenge, wall-sit challenge or a push-up challenge. Each night increase the time and reward yourself as a family.
- Plant and care for a garden together. Digging in the dirt and pulling weeds are great physical activities.
- Set up an in-house obstacle course for those rainy evenings. Have each family member complete it—winner gets to pick what’s for dinner.
- Give your child “free time” and the opportunity to go outside and choose whatever they would like to do. This helps build strong imaginations and independent children, as well as getting daily physical activity in!
- Sign up for an event, like a community walk or run, and then use the time before the event to train together.
These are just a few fun and different ways to get your children moving either before or after school. Of course joining school teams, Girl or Boy Scouts, community leagues and youth groups are all good ideas too as these limit the sedentary time kids may spend at home. However, be sure not to overload your child with evening activities. Physical activity doesn’t have to be boring. You can use your imagination and help your kids get up and move, walk, run or dance away academic stress!