It’s not just adults that have been spending more time at home over the past couple of months, with school and sports facilities closed, children have also been confined to their homes a lot more than usual.
There have been reports that the nationwide lockdown has resulted in weight gain for adults, however we hadn’t seen any results about how our children had been impacted.
With this in mind, we decided to survey parents to find out if their children had gained any weight during lockdown.
We surveyed over 5,000 parents on the east coast of America and discovered that the average child had gained 7lbs since March, with 15% of children gaining over 10lbs.
Broken down into states, New Jersey has experienced the highest weight gain in children, followed by Massachusetts and New York.
Average weight gain of children living on the east coast:
- New Jersey +10.2lbs
- Massachusetts +9.8lbs
- New York +9.6lbs
- Florida +9.1lbs
- Maryland +8.2lbs
- Delaware +7.9lbs
- North Carolina +7.2lbs
- Georgia +6.7lbs
- Maine +6lbs
- Connecticut +5.5lbs
- South Carolina +4.6lbs
- Virginia +4lbs
- Vermont +3.3lbs
- New Hampshire +2.4lbs
- Rhode Island +2.1lbs
When asked, more than half of parents (55%) were concerned about their child’s weight gain, with the majority putting the cause down to a lack of regular exercise followed by a change in diet.
The most popular reason that parents said their children are not getting enough exercise was by simply not going to school (57%), where children are active throughout the week with regular gym classes, outdoor play and afterschool clubs and sports.
This was followed by a lack of time to spend exercising with their children (25%) and a lack of space at home for activities (21%).
The main reason selected for the change in diet was also the absence of the school routine (48%), where children eat at set times with a packed lunch or a meal provided by the school. An increase in snacking at home was the second most popular reason (26%).
After seeing these results, we decided to team up with our experienced personal trainers to put together a few simple tips that can help the whole family take a more positive approach to exercising, weight loss, and taking balanced diet
Top 5 Tips for Instilling a More Balanced Family Lifestyle:
1. Short term goals
Children will be more receptive to the short-term impacts that a balanced diet and regular exercise have on them, than the long term benefits that tend to resonate more with adults.
Focus on how foods with less sugar will lead to stronger teeth, or how exercising more regularly will make it easier for them to climb the jungle gym.
2. Regular routine
In school, children enjoy a regular routine and look forward to recess or gym class where they can forget about the classroom for a while and use some of their pent up energy.
You don’t need an exact schedule, but by keeping exercise to the same time each day, or certain activities on the same day each week, kids can start to look forward to these sessions, especially if you follow up with our next tip.
There is no need to completely cut out snacks or TV time, but you can make them earn these ‘treats’.
Here are some healthy treats you can make for them:
If you don't want to cook, you can still buy protein bars.
By rewarding them for eating fruit and veg with a tasty dessert, or by letting them watch their favourite shows after doing their daily exercise, children will soon start to take a much more positive stance to healthy living.
4. Lead by example
Don’t just tell, show. Children will be much more willing to exercise if they see their parents doing the same.
Try to come up with activities or workouts that everyone can get involved with and turn exercise time into family time.
If it's just you and your partner, you can both try
5. Even small amounts are better than none
There will be some days where both kids and adults just won’t be in the mood to exercise, and this is completely fine, but even a quick walk around the block or down to the local park will make a difference and give everyone a nice break from staring at screens or the same four walls.
Quick and Simple Exercise That Everyone Can Get Involved With:
1. The Plank
This simple exercise quickly becomes incredibly competitive amongst friends and family members.
A test of strength and willpower, the plank is great for the core and is an easy way to measure improvement week by week.
If you wanted to mix things up a bit add in a few shoulder tap reps.
2. Running on the spot
Running is a simple exercise that is great for cardiovascular fitness. However, we know that not everyone has the time to go out with their children every day for a run in a safe and open space. Running on the spot can be just as good, and an added incentive is that they can do it in front of the TV! Put on a motivational video or maybe their favourite music videos to keep them going.
3. Push ups
If they are struggling to do a full push up initially, it is perfectly fine for them to start on their knees and build their way up.
4. Jump rope
The jump rope is one workout equipment great for all ages and there’s a reason why it is still popular with boxers and other professional athletes – it does wonders for cardiovascular fitness. Just a few short sessions each day will be enough to get the heart racing and help burn fat.
Make sure to check surroundings though if doing this inside and stand back. If you do have space outside you could even consider getting a larger rope where the whole family can take part and turn it into a fun game.
5. Basic yoga poses
Even simple yoga routines can have mental and physical benefits on children.
It will improve their flexibility, balance and core strength – don’t be surprised if your kid is a lot more flexible than you to begin with!
There are so many different routines that you can find online, tailored to children.
Start off simple and as you all get more familiar, experiment with more technical poses.
Tyler Sellers, fitness coach at Total Shape said,
While we were seeing studies about how lockdown had been affecting the diets and exercise of adults, we hadn’t seen much about the impact it was having on children. It was quite alarming to see that the majority of parents surveyed were concerned about their child’s recent weight gain.
We knew that we could help and even though our website is primarily targeted at adults, exercise can be enjoyed by all ages, and it is amazing how just a few simple changes to a daily routine can have a big impact on fitness levels and wellbeing for the whole family.
It’s also important that parents implement a nutritious diet, that ensures their children are getting all of the vital nutrients such as vitamins and protein as they grow. I know a lot of parents have success with a daily multivitamin, especially if their child isn’t a fan of fruit and veg!