Lack of gym class and recess could result in sedentary lifestyles, increased risk of childhood obesity

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Kids are home for school a lot earlier than the planned end for the school year. For many, this means no gym class, no outdoor recess and more time in front of the screen.

“Kids being indoors more, them not being at school and having that normal outside recess time, playing video games more, being in front of their computer screen, doing their homework,” said Rachel Marquez, a pediatric nurse practitioner at After Hours Pediatrics. “It’s definitely increased a more sedentary lifestyle.”

Marquez says children who are obese have an increased risk of being obese adults, along with a bigger risk of health problems like diabetes and heart trouble. She says kids’ weight gain often happens during the summer.

“During the summer months, kids are eating more, eating more snacks, they are not as active,” said Marquez. “Those pounds gained during the summer months, they tend to hold onto that weight during the school year, so it accumulates each summer.”

With those “summer” months at home nearly doubled for some, Marquez says staying active is more important than ever.

“In some states, it’s kind of doubled the summer months for them, so instead of having the two or three, they’re having four or six, which just gives them a little bit more time to put on that extra weight that they normally do during the summer months,” said Marquez. “There are lots of things that you can do even without getting out of the house.”

Little bursts of activity like dance breaks and outdoor walks can get the heart pumping.

“We know kids are going to be on their phones anyways so we can use different apps like Tik Tok challenges or different challenges they can do on their phones,” said Marquez. “It still gives them their phone time but also encourages them to exercise.”

She says no matter what, just find a way to get off the couch and get moving.

“Quarantine doesn’t mean just staying inside and not moving,” said Marquez. “You can absolutely go out for a walk as long as you’re maintaining your social distance.”

With grocery stores having most foods in stock again, there isn’t a great need to stock up on shelf-stable foods that tend to be highly processed. Marquez says go to the grocery store once a week and get fresh, healthy foods kids can snack on.

As of 2019, the New Mexico Department of Health says 29-percent of kindergarten students and 36-percent of third graders that were tested, are overweight or obese. They sampled about 3,600 students in elementary schools across the state.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resources

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