Keeping Kids Fit and Active During Quarantine

With the rise of transmission with COVID-19, many schools have stopped teaching in-class courses for the remainder of the school year. This means working parents and caregivers have the task of teaching kids virtually – as well as taking on the role of a homeschooler and primary caregiver for children across the globe.

Aside from academic restrictions, sports and group activities have become limited or canceled as well. Daily, those who care for children have to become creative with how they approach youth exercise. It’s important to keep kids engaged with their physical fitness

As a full-time student and mother, I know all too well how overwhelming this time can be for many of us. Although I am a personal trainer, youth exercise specialist, and fitness educator myself, the ever-present challenge of juggling the day can easily keep me on my toes. I constantly find myself brainstorming ideas to generate fun and inventive ways that adjust our daily routine.


My first tip for being home with the kids is to create a schedule while also allowing for flexibility. Children, just like adults, like to know what to expect each day. Most kids went to school to interact with their peers and learn from their teachers. When that came to an abrupt halt, that threw a wrench into many of our plans. Setting up a daily schedule can allot time where it’s most needed while also helping everyone involved to know what to expect.

Studies have shown that family routines contribute positively to social and emotional advancement in children (Bond, 2014). On the other hand, it’s perfectly okay to deviate from a plan and adjust accordingly. Meltdowns, from both parents/caregivers and children alike, are to be expected every once in a while, with everyone under the same roof 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Shelter-in-place protocols can call for families to stay indoors as much as possible, with allowances for walks and exercise outside throughout the day. At a minimum, children need 60 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Amounts that go beyond 60 minutes can then provide beneficial health benefits beyond the base recommendation (Youth Physical Activity Guidelines, 2019).


The benefits of exercise for children are manifold. Here are just a few:

  1. Regular exercise for children can increase bone health.
  2. A Kids fitness routine can lower body fat reduce tendencies for chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus (particularly Type 2 diabetes). 
  3. Working out as a child can strengthen muscles and increase cardiovascular health – as most exercises should be aerobic in nature.

This means that youth are in continuous movement and not necessarily focused on fitness programming (as an adult would be.) Weight-bearing activities with bodyweight show to enhance muscular strength and stability in children.


Here are some age-group-related skills to keep in mind for children when it comes to fitness (and wellness overall):

  1. Toddler to early elementary: foundational – balance, sports skills, agility, foods, and groups, learning with movement
  2. Elementary – sport skills, intrinsic motivation, nutrition
  3. Middle school and beyond – sport skills, intrinsic motivation, nutrition, set a solid goal (race, etc.)


Without getting overly complicated, the goal for exercise with kids is to keep things LIGHT and FUN. For kids to get moving, and to do so willingly, they have to be enticed with fun activities that make them smile! In addition to that, to keep stress low for parents and caretakers, using limited equipment or what’s around the house is an ideal way to make movement activities as straightforward as possible.


Equipment needed: Construction or any paper to mark stations, a marker for writing (the kids can help if they can write)


Equipment needed: Construction or any paper to mark stations, a marker for writing (the kids can help if they can write)


The majority of us have a multitude of people under one roof at any given point in the day now. That also means that more food is being consumed from the house rather than out.

This can be a good thing! We must use this time of reset with others in the home to be mindful of what we eat, avoiding mindless eating as much as possible. Healthy meals, with snacks staggered around them, should be a priority of planning in the home as much as possible.

Between 45-65% of a child’s nutrition intake should fall into the category of Carbohydrates between the time that they are a one-year-old through their adolescent and teenage years.

What does that mean? That means that the bulk of foods for our children should come in the form of healthy whole food sources. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes serve as nutrient-dense sources from nature (food intolerances should be taken into consideration on an individualized basis.)


This is a refreshingly simple way to get the family involved in meal planning as well as a way to throw in healthy meal components at the same time!


  1. 2-3 different kinds of beans (black, pinto, refried work – they’re all full of iron and healthy carbohydrates and proteins for the family)
  2. Whole Wheat tortillas
  3. Mixed greens or baby kale or spinach
  4. Low fat or plant-based sour cream
  5. Low fat or plant-based shredded cheese
  6. Salsa of preference
  7. White or brown rice – cooked
  8. Corn or Grain-free tortilla chips

How to: Cook beans or use canned beans that you can heat up and set to the side. Arrange ingredients in bowls. Ensure that the family has washed their hands and is ready to help make their dish. Each person can choose to make nachos, a taco salad, burritos, or tacos – it’s a chance to get creative. In this recipe, you’ll have healthy sources of whole food nutrients without a lot of preparation or use of cooking appliances!


No one can pour their energy out from an empty cup. Work is essential as well as the education of our children, but our health remains a top priority. Allotting time for our workouts can make or break our sanity while being home with our kids. We stay mentally strong through the challenges and can use exercise as a healthy means of time to ourselves.

The dopamine rush (also known as the free happy chemical release you get with your workout) is necessary now more than ever! I’ve had to learn to multi-task and sometimes do my workouts with my little one, so that she can learn from my example, and so that I tire her out at the same time.


  1. Bond, A. (2014, March 12). Kids with family routines more emotionally, socially advanced. Retrieved from
  2. DeWayne, S. A., Register-Mihalik, J. K., Ondrak, K. S., & Barefield, K. undefined. (2012). National Academy of Sports Medicine: Youth Exercise Specialist.
  3. Youth Physical Activity Guidelines. (2019, May 29). Retrieved from

Katrina is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist, Nutrition Coach, Group Fitness Instructor, and Wellness Educator also studying to complete her Master of Science degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion to focus on issues related to Health Equity. She holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and the University of South Florida. She also has an Associate of Science Degree in Graphic Design and is a content creator and host of various video series online. Katrina Pilkington is a global wellness educator bridging gaps with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion through coaching as an adaptable champion of change. Her goal is to lead her community by example and relatability to shift the culture in wellness to be one of belonging and accessible means. Her goal is to use her experience coaching and mentoring to lead her community by example and use relatability to shift the culture in wellness to be one of belonging and accessible means for those who are the most underrepresented and marginalized. Katrina has a passion for working with others to find their deep meaning to take care of themselves inside and out to the best of their ability using the means they have access to.

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