Health

US children stuck at home embrace online exercise classes

HOUSTON: Every afternoon since they started staying in their Texas home due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Canonico sisters - aged two, four and 10 - spend some time banging on the floor with kitchen utensils.

They are taking online classes several times a week from a local kids' gym in Houston to burn up some of their pent-up energy - and to learn crucial motor and social skills at the same time.

Kinley, Caylee and Riley had already attended baby fitness programmes over the years at their local branch of The Little Gym, a chain focused on movement-based learning.

When the authorities in Houston - like many other jurisdictions across the US, around the world and even Singapore, where schools will move to full home-based learning from Wednesday - issued a stay-at-home order last week, their tax consultant mother Lauren Soliz, 37, said she was all-in for them to pick up some classes online.

She said: "Yes, they can watch their iPads for a certain amount of time every day. But we are also getting in our physical health too."

With three girls to take care of at home and random meetings by phone throughout the day, she says it is virtually impossible to maintain a schedule.


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Nevertheless, she has figured out how to set up regular exercise breaks - bike rides around their neighbourhood after breakfast and YouTube yoga classes.

Ms Soliz said the activities are a good way to blow off steam.

"We are all feeling the stress and the anxiety and the unknown and uncertainty of, you know, how long is this going to be?" she said.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has published guidelines for parents on how to help children throughout the crisis. It said: "Encourage your child to play outdoors - it is great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride."

But if outdoor play is impossible, it recommends "indoor activity breaks" for stretching and dancing. It suggests that children from the ages of six to 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day.

Mr Alex Tellez, who runs one of the Houston-area Little Gyms that was forced to shut down, said: "Whether or not you have a specific outlet for children's energy, it will escape. They are going to run, they are going to play and that is because they need stimulation. - AFP

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