By Zac Gent – Zac is a local realtor, a parent of a Janet Metcalfe Public School student and a member of the Parent Involvement Committee.

It goes without saying, these are hard times. The days, weeks, and months seem to drag on and the walls of our homes seem to be closing in. We all feel the melancholy that has come along with the battle against COVID-19. We have heard the expression “COVID weight,” referring to the few extra pounds some of us have put on as a result of less active lives. There is no doubt that we can see the results of more sedentary days in our waistlines, but what about the areas we can’t see? What about our mental health? Fitness, for me, means so much more than just my outward appearance. Fitness is my stress relief and energy booster all rolled into one.

Numerous studies are showing the positive impact that physical activity can have on our mental health. I can say that fitness has been at the centre of what makes me happy each day – it’s the thing that can turn a bad day into a good one. I recognize I am a person of privilege that I have a home gym in my garage, but what about those families that don’t have any equipment? Or those families that normally stay active playing sports throughout the year? What are those families supposed to do during these COVID-19 times?

As our society has trended more indoors over the past decade or so, there has been a growing concern over children’s physical health. You may be asking, “What can I do at home during these times?” I say, keep it simple. You don’t need hundreds of dollars in equipment to stay in shape. Stick with the basics. Push-ups, sit-ups, planks, jumping jacks, burpees, squats, skipping and high jumps are all tried and tested methods to keep active. The next challenge is incorporating this into activities kids will respond to. I am sure most parents and caregivers agree that games are the way to go to keep kids entertained. A good idea might be to pick a few exercises and incorporate those into an obstacle course around your house. For those who are more competitive, pick five exercises, make everyone in the family do ten repetitions of each (50 reps in total) and see who can finish the fastest. Or do that circuit every week and see if you can improve on your time each week.

Don’t forget to get outside to get that Vitamin D! Walking is one of our most basic human functions, however, studies have shown that walking a few thousand steps a day can not only burn calories but improve heart health and fitness. A great goal is to get 10,000 steps in each day. I know that seems like a lot so if that’s not possible, start with a 30-minute walk a day. Try to add a family walk after dinner, or do your best to walk to and from school when we return. Fitness does not have to be a crazy time-consuming activity. Try to walk around the house or do some push-ups during commercial breaks of tonight’s TV show.

The pandemic has been a struggle for all of us. It has been a unique challenge that no one thought we would have to go through. It has been truly amazing to see how strong we all are and how, even apart, we can still come together and support each other as parents, and community members. I am proud to call Waterloo Region my home and be a part of the WRDSB family.

Parent Posts are written by parents, for parents in collaboration with PIC. This series features guest parent bloggers where they share resources and information with other parents. We invite you to email and let us know if there are other topics you’d like to learn more about on Parent Posts.