January 6, 2021

Lithuanian Sports University professor provides recommendations on physical activity during quarantine

In order to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, quarantine has been introduced in Lithuania, therefore non-formal sports and physical activities have been cancelled or are conducted remotely. “Consequently, the majority of Lithuanian students cannot attend any sports clubs, so they are physically active only during physical education lessons. But they are also mostly remote. So now the teacher of physical education has become probably the main promoter of physical activity for students. However, not only physical education, but also primary school teachers, students and their parents should not forget that the process of physical education must take place in the conditions of quarantine and distance learning,” said the professor of Lithuanian Sports University (LSU) Dr. Arūnas Emeljanovas.

LSU recommendations

According to the professor, research shows that in the early period of COVID-19, some countries observed a decrease in physical activity in children and an increase in sedentary activities. Such short-term changes can become permanent and increase the risk of childhood obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“As a result, the physical education teacher now has an even greater responsibility for students’ physical activity and, in the long run, for their health. Parents of students should understand this and help teachers, support their initiatives, motivate their children to move, and try to be physically active together with the whole family,” said LSU Professor A. Emeljanovas. He offers 15 recommendations for distance physical education.

1. Distance education is not as bad as it may seem. It reveals new opportunities for communication, cooperation and creativity. A lot of activities are accessed and done on the Internet. Therefore, we have to learn and develop our professional and information technology competencies.

2. Although there are almost no traditional lessons, the recommendations of the World Health Organization for students’ physical activity must be followed: do moderate to high level physical activities for at least 60 minutes every day and exercise at least 3 times a week to strengthen the musculoskeletal system.

3. Ensure that the distance physical education lessons are based on physical activity rather than theory.

4. Purposefully “employ” and creatively apply information technologies: try out various online platforms and apps that promote students’ physical activity.

5. Give students physical education homework related to physical activity, for example to walk a certain distance, film their physical activities, involve family members in physically activities, prepare a physical activity task for classmates, etc. Physical education teachers need to carefully review the tasks created by students, assess whether they are logical and safe, and make suggestions to students and their parents.

6. Physical education teachers themselves must set an example, be leaders in physical activity and health in the school community, and advise students, their parents, teachers of other subjects and the administrative staff on issues related to physical activity. Record physical activity tasks or examples.

7. Encourage students to spend as much physically active time as possible in the fresh air in the yard, parks, etc. For example, formulate the tasks of a physical education lesson – to walk, play or spend time actively in other ways. Studies show that spending 120 minutes outdoors during the week improves physical health. In addition, it has been scientifically proven that playing games outside improves the cognitive functions of children.

8. It is necessary to create a system/ structure of distance learning so that the lessons are not chaotic.

9. It is necessary to create a system of assessment of distance physical education that students would know in advance. It is important to explain to them that not only the performance of tasks will be evaluated, but also efforts, creativity and involvement.

10. It is very important that students have a clear understanding of the tasks and carry them out without any risk of injury.

11. Students should follow a work-study routine. They should get up at the scheduled time, have breakfast, join lessons and rest. Therefore, parents should provide their children with a proper work and rest regime, and sufficient physical activity to spend less free time at their computers or TV.

12. Encourage students to take daily physically active breaks between distance lessons indoors and in the fresh air. It is necessary to explain to students why this is necessary and provide examples of physically active breaks.

13. Explain to students that physical activity also has an effect on good emotional well-being and health. It is important to keep in mind good emotional health, manage stress and crisis situations.

14. Try to motivate the whole family to be more physically active and spend as much time as possible together. Research shows that more than half of Lithuanian parents have not spent physically active time with their children. And this could improve not only the overall physical activity of the family, but also the relationship between parents and children.

15. Administrative staff should ensure that physical education teachers improve their qualifications in the areas of health, healthy lifestyle, physical activity, physical literacy, information technology and other fields.

Source – Lithuanian Sports University.