Promoting healthy movement behaviours among children during the COVID-19 pandemic

AHKGA leaders are among the authors on a new commentary, “Promoting healthy movement behaviours among children during the COVID-19 pandemic”, that was recently published online ahead of print in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

Panel’s recommendations for promoting healthy movement behaviour include:

Parents and carers should incorporate physical activity into children’s daily routine (including using electronic media to facilitate participation) and encourage the whole family to join while adhering to regulations on physical distancing and access to outdoor spaces. Extended periods of sitting should be broken up every 30–60 min (eg, by standing and stretching for 1 min). They should follow sedentary recreational screentime recommendations and encourage co-viewing and positive social interactions and experiences. To help children to get enough sleep, keep bed and wake times consistent, keep screens out of the room where children sleep, and avoid screen use before bedtime.

Educators and teachers should know and promote the movement behaviour guidelines, and embrace opportunities to incorporate healthy movement messages, practices, and policies into daily home-school routines and lessons—eg, when scheduling online lessons, limit prolonged sitting and encourage changes in posture such as regularly standing, stretching, or moving on the spot.

Health professionals should understand and recommend the current guidelines to parents, family members, and caregivers and reinforce their positive association with children’s health during all visits, including remote contacts and telemedicine.

Governments should promote healthy movement behaviours in children as part of response strategies and public messaging, and should engage influential people in promotion of such messages.

The media should provide regular messages to promote physical activity and break up extended periods of sitting.

Children should speak up and advocate for their right to a healthy, active life, while carefully observing pandemic restrictions. Forming peer groups can help with maintaining healthy movement behaviour patterns.

Click here to read the full publication for free.