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Ten ways to keep active and healthy at home

Life in a pandemic has meant we are all adapting to new routines and ways of co-existing.

Covid-19 has brought us to a serious time, whether we are front-line workers, small businesses adjusting to social distancing, or balancing working from home with looking after children.

Everyone's situation is different but setting up a home routine will help put structure on your day. Set times around meals, breaks, snacks, getting outdoors, time for school work, managing workload and so on.

There's no perfect solution or 'best practice' but here's some advice that might help everyone keep healthy in mind and body while we are adjusting to this new normal. And remember, we can only do our best.

1. Keep washing your hands 

We now know that handwashing is the best way to protect you and your family from illness. It's vital we keep washing our hands to help break the chain and stop the spread of Coronavirus. 

The key times are: when you come into your home, when you go into your workplace or start work, after you blow your nose, before you eat or handle food and after using the loo. Here’s a 'How to' handwashing video to remind us all of the steps to handwashing. 


And Rufus our Handwashing Hero is great to teach your little ones the five steps to handwashing.


2. Get outdoors - but keep your social distancing

The limits on how far we can go from home have largely been removed. Get outdoors for exercise as often as you can. It is still important to keep to the social distancing advice – that’s two metres away.

3. Meal routine

A healthy eating routine is good for the mind and body as more of us find ourselves at home. Set meal and snack times to give structure to the day. And remember to drink lots of water - to stay healthy we should drink about 8 glasses or 1.2 litres of fluid each day.

To help you start meal planning, here are family meal plans for three weeks

4.  Cooking together

Being at home together gives us a chance to teach children a bit more about food and help them develop real life skills. If you can, try to get them involved in cooking or baking projects. Get younger kids involved in food prep and mixing foods, setting and clearing the table. Maybe set cooking or baking projects for the older kids - you could even put teens in charge of making lunch or dinner.

Here’s a playlist of simple, family-friendly recipes.


5. Healthy snacking 

Having a meal routine will help with snacks during the day. Having a plan for healthy snacks can help us from falling into a habit of unhealthy snacking while at home. We have loads of ideas for making easy, healthy snacks that the kids could help out with.

Click to see what your family might like

6. Screen time limits

Keeping kids off screens is a challenge at the best of times and much harder when they are stuck at home. And if your children have been using screens for school work, you may find yourself on the back foot if you're trying to get them to cut back down now that the summer is here.

Our tip is to agree a daily screen time limit for all devices with a screen, such as TVs, computers, smart phones, laptops, tablets and game consoles. Try to stick to this as much as possible.

Screen time guides:

  • For children under two, try to avoid screen time completely.
  • For those aged between two and five, try to keep screen time to one hour each day.
  • And for children over five, agree clear limits and a good guide is no more than two hours each day.

Here's more advice on screen time for different age groups

7. Plan for play

Planning daily activities will help keep kids physically active as we find ourselves more confined. Wall ball, hopscotch, traffic lights are great for confined spaces like gardens, yards or small outdoor areas. 

Here are some great ideas for old-school active play games for indoors and outdoors

8. Sleep routine 

Try to keep the children’s normal school-time routine around sleep. This will help their mental and physical health during these uncertain and unsettling times.

Children of different ages need different amounts of sleep. Here's what you should aim for:

3 - 5 year olds 11 - 12 hours at night, plus a daytime rest of up to 1 hour
5 -12 year olds 10+ hours
over 12 year olds and teenagers 8 - 9 hours

Click for more on how to set up a healthy sleep routine

Dr Fiona Healy tells us how to set up a good bedtime routine for different aged kids.

9. Gardening

While weather dependent, if you have access to a garden you could roll up your sleeves as a family get the garden back in shape after winter. Maybe start a gardening project to remind us all about the importance of growing plants. If you don’t have a garden, you can do this in pots on a window ledge.

10. Be good to yourself

This is a challenging time and everyone is different but we are all facing huge changes to the way we do things. All we can do is try our best to keep things 'normal', listen to reliable advice from the Department of Health and look out for the people around us.

Here's advice on how to maintain your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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