The coronavirus outbreak is disrupting the social status quo. To help combat the virus, we all have a responsibility to stay home, restrict travel and practice social distancing. As we adapt to this new reality, organizations and activities from sports to education have been radically altered almost overnight. Businesses and schools are shaking things up by going remote, while healthcare professionals and patients are turning to new medical tools like telemedicine. Confronted with the coronavirus, it's necessary for all of us to explore new ways of adjusting to our ever-changing and uncertain environment.
But what could that look like for your family or the families in your church trying to stay active while cooped up at home?
During this time, it's all too easy for us and our children to lose touch with the outdoor activities, gym routines, and sports leagues that have been such a significant part of our lives for so long. With parents working from home and kids taking their classes online from the sofa or bedroom, homes have been quickly transformed into bustling workplaces and classrooms. As the boundaries between work, school, and personal life are being redefined, we may be too stressed or too preoccupied with managing household affairs to think about physical fitness.
But physical health is a crucial part of our overall well-being. If we neglect our physical health, we run the risk of worsening our mental, emotional and spiritual condition too. And during this pandemic, where there is increased stress from anxiety, uncertainty, and social isolation, no one can afford to neglect the things that matter most. That's why there's such a great need for homebound families to find simple ways to stay active and maximize their time together for the betterment of all.
Before the virus outbreak, many families relied on their church communities and sports leagues for order, support and guidance while trying to stay healthy. But now that our church communities aren't gathering together in buildings and our sports leagues are on pause, we all need to innovate and think outside the box if we're going to stay active and engaged while at home.
One great way to start is for families to build virtual communities with each other, their churches and their friends from their sports leagues. These online groups can be vital in sharing fitness resources, activity plans, and much-needed encouragement.
Many people simply don't know what they can do to exercise and play while confined to the limited space of their homes. But fortunately for us, we live in a connected world with access to technology that allows us to keep in touch and maintain relationships with important individuals in our lives. The internet offers endless opportunities for families to pool their knowledge, brainstorm and come up with fitness ideas together. These options might include core basics like those listed below, or something off the wall that your family will remember forever — like inventing a new sport with items you have on hand or competing to see who can win the flexibility challenge.
Whole church communities can enjoy taking part in exercise and helping to hold each other accountable. At Upward Sports, we encourage our church partners and participating families to stay connected with their teams, even after the season is over. Pastors, church leaders, and volunteers can all play a vital role in keeping in touch and promoting creative ways to maintain ongoing physical fitness.
But whatever ideas you or others generate, the key is building a simple and workable routine that's fun, safe and easy to follow.
There are lots of tools in our fitness toolbox to use in developing these plans. Here are just a few practical ideas:
1) Family Exercise Schedule - Anyone can incorporate 5, 10 or 20 minutes of daily stretching and exercise into their day to increase their total flexibility. While we may not be able to share the sports field with friends as we would prefer, we can still make time in the day for regular outdoor activities like walking, biking, running or hiking. And even though the gyms may be closed, some simple resistance training at home is more than enough to help us stay fit.
The key to success is making exercise a part of our everyday schedule. You may start with 10 pushups and sit-ups, or a short morning run, and incrementally build up to strength conditioning and cardio exercises over time. One of the benefits of being at home is that we can structure our time however we think is best, scheduling our fitness activities at our convenience and discretion.
2) Continue Drills at Home – Despite not being able to practice with your team, families, and kids can continue to engage in practicing skills and drills at home. As an example, for basketball, dribbling, passing and defense drills can still be done in the driveway, whether you have a basketball hoop or not. Additionally, soccer drills are very easy to continue in our own back yard, as it takes less equipment to practice this particular sport.
3) Continue Team Meetings Via Phone or Video – If your child's team cannot meet in person, they can still meet digitally. Think about setting up conference calls or video chats to check in with the team and set exercise goals for each player. We would encourage setting very doable, attainable goals so that kids can actually achieve the desired ends.
We can view our pursuit of physical fitness at home as an element of spiritual exercise as well. Working hard together to keep up an exercise or sports routine while stuck at home is a great way for us to exhibit discipline and contribute to the spiritual growth of our family and community. Part of spiritual maturity is about taking ownership of our actions, and, regardless of the situation, prioritizing relationships, encouraging those around us and turning challenges into opportunities. Investing in the well-being of others provides a very tangible way for us as Christians to display the love of Christ to the world and influence people with the life-changing Gospel that can transform their lives.
On a practical note, many young kids may not yet have a lot of experience exercising on their own without a coach or a team to keep them going. Parents and whole families can step in to use exercise and routine-building as opportunities to impart and apply valuable spiritual lessons even while kept at a distance from the brick-and-mortar church. It's true that parents are their kids' first coaches in life – and right now it's vital for parents to include teaching their children healthy exercise habits as part of their game plan!
There are a lot of different and interesting options for individual families to explore. But perhaps the most important thing is refusing to let the fear and anxiety surrounding the coronavirus dictate how we live out our faith and conduct our everyday lives. For families and for the church, the coronavirus outbreak doesn't have to just be a crisis; it can also be an opportunity to think outside the box and grow into new and impactful activities that promote overall mental, physical, social, and spiritual health.
Mark Steinert is the partner experience director at Upward Sports.