Kids are spending more and more time at home and inside now than ever. The pandemic has made it more difficult for kids to fulfill their recommended daily requirement of physical activity. We are hearing the depressing statistics that physical activity rates for kids and teenagers are declining. Many sports and extracurricular activities have been on pause with facilities not operating recreational or competitive programs. Schools have been unable to run a substantial physical activity session due to the inability to use equipment for sanitization reasons with much of the equipment consisting of high touch surfaces. The number of kids reporting the only thing they do at school in gym class or recess is run because they aren’t allowed to use any of the equipment is disheartening. While running has its benefits, it’s definitely not the most fun and engaging exercise for kids and there are many other developmental activities kids could be working on.
Kids who are learning remotely as well as in class are sitting for far longer than they ever did prior to the pandemic. Six year old children are being asked to now sit for up to five hours a day when learning from home. Likewise, children attending school in person discouraged from getting up and walking around, playing at different centers in the classroom or doing group work in order to maintain social distancing. When you pair this with a lack of structured movement it leads to more sedentary kids and kids who are developing painful joints i.e neck, shoulders, hips, knees. How can we change this and create an adaptive play structure for all ages to participate in before this gets worse? As a Physical Therapist working in paediatrics and a mom of 3 young kids, I can immediately see how the implementation of FITLIGHTS® can improve physical activity levels, target specific gross motor skills and boost motivation of kids at home and at school. Not to mention fulfill the requirements of exercising during a global pandemic.
In a clinical setting, the set up and ease of use of the FITLIGHTS® makes them a MUST have for my rehab programs. They can easily be combined with various rehabilitation equipment such as a balance beam, Bosu ball, weights, stairs and general mat work. Children love the ability to be involved in setting up the lights whether it be choosing their position, choosing their colour or sequence. This makes the task they are required to perform more meaningful as well as motivating.
At home, many parents lack the time to come up with new ways to get their kids moving. Kids who are learning remotely, likely have parents working full time from home. To ask parents to now stand in as a substitute physical education teacher on top of all their other responsibilities during the day is to say the least “asking a lot”. With the FITLIGHTS®, you can literally “set it and forget it”, create your own drills or use ones that have been preprogrammed. Kids as young as four years old can operate technology easily so setting up the FITLIGHTS® for them is a no brainer. The best part is you don’t need any other formal equipment, you can use what you already have at home to incorporate the lights- this could be couch cushions, your stairs, the driveway, balls, hoolahoops- the sky is the limit. Letting your kids use their imagination to set up their own reaction drill will definitely pay off and when your work day is done as a parent you can join in with the fun.
Lastly, let’s look at our schools. The FITLIGHTS® should be a staple piece of equipment for physical education departments. The fact that you can use them without actually touching them is a HUGE bonus right now. Being able to split the class up and use the reaction lights at various stations (socially distanced of course) makes it an easy tool for physical education teachers to use. They can also be used while working on skills from various sports i.e jumping, balance, running, changing direction. The portability of the FITLIGHTS® is also a major benefit Being able to take the lights from the gym to a classroom, outside, to the library easily boosts usability. Lastly, the ability to add a cognitive component to physical activity such as colour recognition, memory recall or the ability to react in a different way based on colour is perfect for our young scholars.
So whether it’s in a rehab setting, at home or at school the versatility of the FITLIGHTS® along with all the other benefits mentioned above make it a great tool to enhance physical activity.
Here are 3 simple exercises with the lights you can use in any setting: