With the re­cent health threat of CO­VID-19, there have been school cancellations, work from home orders and cancellation of all town and school sports activities.

Most private gyms have been closed, as well as ten­nis clubs and indoor sport complexes.

The Town of Tewksbury recently announced that all town facilities have been closed to the public. This includes using outdoor areas on the TMHS campus, like the track, soccer and ball fields, and tennis courts.

According to the CDC, the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to avoid contamination from others, wash hands and common areas thoroughly, and keep your immune system working properly by eating right, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly.

Many of us are left wondering how to get our recommended one hour a day of exercise for our family when we are sheltering in place, with no access to our normal exercise regimens.

There are actually many activities you can do at home that can serve double duty by providing much needed exercise and quality family bonding time.

Go for a scheduled walk everyday. First thing in the morning, after lunch, or before dinnertime, it doesn’t matter, as long as you add it to your daily schedule so it becomes a habit.

Toddlers to grandparents can reap the benefits of a good walk, and the family dog is a welcome addition to this exercise regiment.

When walking with smal­ler children, play a game of visual scavenger hunt, looking for the bird in the tree, the cat in the window, a black mailbox with the flag up, or an Ameri­can flag. This will keep little minds occupied, and keep the complaints of boredom to a minimum.

Disco Night at home is a fun way to exercise and bridge the generation gap. Have everyone in the family pick out their favorite dance music, then have fun as the younger generation teaches mom and dad the latest dance moves. Parents can show kids how they danced in the 70’s, 80’s or whatever era they call their own.

Mom can get much needed help around the house by making games out of chores. Have a race to see who can get the most rooms in the house dusted first. (Of course they will have to pass the white glove test before you de­clare a winner!)

With smaller children, have a race to pick up the toys, or play a laundry game of “Whose Clothes are These?” The children can deliver folded clothes to the proper room or closet. Whoever gets the most clothes in the right spot will win.

To liven up couch-potato time in front of the television, turn TV commercial breaks into a mini exercise class. As soon as a commercial starts, get on the floor to see who can do the most sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks, or laps around the coffee table until the commercial break is over. Switch up the activity for each commercial break by pulling the activity name out of a hat. Keep track of everyone's score, then tally them up at the end of the show and an­nounce the winner.

Have a weekly backyard sports night. Play a basketball game in the driveway, a game of catch, or have a volleyball or soccer game in the backyard.

Try going “old school,” reverting back to backyard games when you were a kid. Have a relay race or a game of box ball. Even schoolyard favorites like jump rope and hopscotch can be a good form of exercise.

You will find that old standby games like horseshoes, badminton, and croquet still stand the test of time, making for a fun evening for all.

Early spring is the perfect time to enlist the kids in some yard work. Raking leftover fall leaves, picking up broken branches, or turning over the soil in garden beds is great exercise.

Competition always seems to be a good motivator in our house. Compete to see who collects the most branches or leaves, that way the kids will have a winner, and you will be a winner when all of your yard work is completed!

Set up an obstacle course in your driveway for the kids to maneuver their bikes around. If you don’t have the driveway space, set one up in the backyard for the kids to run through. Use empty water jugs, cardboard boxes, and laundry baskets as different markers that will challenge different skill sets.

Time each child as they go through the course, al­lowing them multiple turns to try and improve their score.

Please take comfort in the fact that we are all in this together, and we will persevere.

Replace knee-jerk panic with well thought out plans of how to best make it through the next few weeks by following guidelines set by the CDC.

Participating in these easy and fun activities at home can provide much needed exercise, help re­lieve stress, and provide quality time spent as a family unit.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 visit www.cdc.gov.

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