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Kids stretching at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Using Exercise to Maintain Mental Health

By Charlie Wise, MS, ATC, VATL

At a time when the mood-boosting benefits of exercise are needed more than ever, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that children have experienced up to a 50 percent decrease in physical activity since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Recent studies have also found an alarming increase in student-athletes reporting feelings of anxiety and depression.

It’s understandable. Kids are dealing with a major disruption to their normal routine. They may feel disconnected from their social networks. School closures and the delay or cancellation of sports seasons only add to this disruption.

One way to help your child or student-athlete protect their mental health is to encourage a daily routine that includes exercise. Exercise has long been used as a way to help cope with mental health challenges. Not only can it improve sleep and reduce anxiety and symptoms of depression, it can also help protect against a future decline in mental health.

Finding the space and resources to continue normal exercise or training routines may be difficult; however, setting specific goals can be a useful strategy to maintaining the motivation to stay active every day. Exercise routines or sport-specific training can be done with friends or teammates with proper social distancing. This has the added benefit of social interaction with peers.

If it’s not possible to safely be together in person, virtual workout sessions are a great alternative. See virtual workouts from out sports medicine team here. 

While encouraging daily activity can help instill a sense of normalcy, it is also vital to maintain open lines of communication. Parents and coaches should monitor the emotional state of their young athletes. If concerns arise, reach out for support to ensure that your child is receiving the proper guidance and resources to maintain a healthy mental state.

As always, CHKD is here to support you. If your child is struggling, contact their primary care physician to discuss the mental health support resources available.

About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.