With DC-area gyms closed, health experts recommend maintaining exercise routines

Children who are skipping usual activities, such as attending school, because of the coronavirus outbreak might have a lot of built-up energy, and parents starting an exercise routine with youngsters can help, experts say.

“Make it a game; make it challenging for each other,” said Lance Kelly, director of professional and elite sports therapy for MedStar Health Physical Therapy.

No equipment is needed for exercises, such as squats, lunges, planks, jumping jacks and pushups, he said.

“All of these exercises, kids can do from any age,” Kelly said. “You could start with them doing pushups or trying to do pushups, so you can compete against each other at home,” he said.

And you can get creative.

“You can use things around the home like milk jugs, water bottles, soup cans – you can use that as extra weight to do a particular exercise,” Kelly said.

Even kids who typically participate in organized sports can keep their skills fresh and burn off extra energy.

“If you can come up with activities and create activities that are fun and safe for the kids, I think it’s a win,” said Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, medical director of MedStar Health Orthopedic and Sports Center at Lafayette Centre. He’s also the head team physician for the Washington Wizards.

Douoguih said there’s plenty to do while keeping a safe distance.

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“Whether you’re playing soccer or basketball — you could set up cone drills, dribbling drills. You can work on your free throws, you can throw a lacrosse ball against a wall,” Douoguih said.

It’s beneficial for everyone in the family to stay active.

“The benefits of regular exercise during this difficult time are myriad,” Douoguih said. “It can improve your overall demeanor and sense of wellness. It can reduce stress and anxiety. It can boost your immune system; in general keep you healthy as we prepare for returning to regular life.”

Something as simple as vigorous exercise for 30 minutes, three to five times a week, may be all you need. You can even break it up into 15-minute intervals.

“Staying at home doesn’t mean lying in bed,” Douoguih said. “It’s important to stay active during this time because it can be protective.”

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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