According to Dr. Jack Maypole, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and a father of three, social distancing may be a necessity to prevent the spread of the corona virus but physical activity outdoors is not.
In fact, allowing children to play or exercise outdoors can be mental and emotional health boosts for them and their parents. In addition to a constructive activity, playing and exercising outdoors offers these benefits: improves the mental and emotional wellbeing in children; helps them soak in Vitamin D, which contributes to children’s growth and strengthens their bones. Vitamin D also stimulates serotonin (the hormone that regulates mood and happiness) in the brain. Also, outdoor activities and exercise allow children to experience normalcy and give them a break from the worry and bombardment of news regarding the threat of the corona virus. Though experts do encourage outdoor activities as a family, they discourage use of playground equipment (unless parents are willing to sterilize or wipe down equipment prior to their children’s use.)
A less stressful alternative might be to offer children an outdoor activity that links to a future event for which they can participate. BAPA’s annual Memorial Day Ridge Run occurs May 25, 2020, and elementary school aged children can participate under the banner of their school. Parents, whose children wish to participate, do not have to rush to sign their children up for the race, nor do they have to wait for students to return to school to sign up. However, they can use BAPA’s 2020 10-Week 5K Youth Training Program as a constructive outdoor activity that will both prepare youth for the Ridge Run and give them something positive to anticipate. Click here for a PDF of the training program.
The training program offers constructive week-by-week activities in which youth can engage individually, in two-person teams, or as families. Parents can connect to our Facebook page, entitled BAPA’s Ridge Runners, to share their children’s progress and training experiences as well as be cheered on by a larger community of Beverly area runners. These activities will hopefully give students something for which to plan and anticipate.
For more information, contact Tina Jenkins Bell, School Liaison