How to Stay Active at Home

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for you and your family is challenging enough without the burden of COVID-19. It seems like most days are more work than play, and the last thing you want to do is add another thing to your list of “to-dos”. Make being active a lifestyle and not a “to-do.” Learn why exercise is so important and easy ways to incorporate fun activities into your daily life.

Research shows that on average, children and adolescents with Down Syndrome perform about 27 minutes of physical activity a day. The Department of Health guidelines state that all children and adolescents should perform at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Why is this gap so important? Because this research was performed before we were all stuck at home with no extracurricular activities. Exercising on a regular basis has so many positive benefits. It improves heart and lung health, increases functional abilities, strengthens our muscles, lowers the risk of chronic diseases, improves our mood, helps us gain independence, and the list continues! These benefits are especially important for individuals with Down syndrome to give them every tool possible to combat daily challenges and live strong, healthy lives.

Fun Games to Get Moving

  • Simon Says: they get to tell you what to do for a change! Get ready to act silly!
  • Treasure Hunts: look high and low for little treasures while running around the yard. Stickers, pennies, stuffed animals, or maybe even clues. “When you sleep I am under your head, and I’m usually close to your bed.”
  • Lava Monster: yes, the couch cushions may not love you afterwards, but who doesn’t love pretending the floor is lava! This game is such a great challenge of balance and decision making that you’ll forget you’re being physically active.
  • Races: animal, bike or foot… a little competition makes it way more fun! Or better yet have your child compete with themselves. Can they beat their last attempt?
  • Obstacle Courses: fun indoors or outdoors and easy to switch up. Run around the chair, step over the pillows, army crawl under the kitchen table and shoot for the stars!
  • Charades: I hope you have good actors on your team!
  • Hiking: take the whole family out to enjoy the fresh air. Find pretty flowers, skip rocks, pack a picnic, and enjoy.
  • Freeze Dance: play your favorite tunes and freeze when the song pauses. For more of a challenge, freeze and unfreeze every time Pharrell says “happy.”
  • Chalk or Tape: balance beam, hop scotch, mazes, bike lanes, the opportunities are endless.
  • Yoga: wonderful activity for the whole family to strengthen, balance and be together.
  • Tag: freeze tag, toilet tag, and sardines are cool twists on the traditional version.
  • Balloon Volleyball: great for your budget and your lamps.
  • Act Out a Story: act out their favorite book together or make up a story as you go. I am sure you will all have a grand adventure.
  • Dance It Out: DANCE PARTY! Leave all your worries behind and move to the rhythm!

Overall, we want our kiddos to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day to be able to live their lives to the fullest! As caregivers, we are influential role models that should provide our children with opportunities, positive perceptions about exercise, emotional support and motivation, and a healthy home environment. We want to strive for progress and not perfection to incorporate physical activity into our families’ daily lives. Now, let’s get moving!

~ Elicia Kleich, Physical Therapy Graduate Student at Rosalind Franklin University

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