Dear Athletic Support: My son is two weeks into this new “virtual learning” style of education. He’s in seventh grade, and honestly, I don’t think it’s good for him. We decided to keep him in school, but now all his work has shifted completely to computers. What’s worse, I think it’s impacting him physically. He’s not sleeping very good, and he says his back hurts. His football season just started a few weeks ago, and I’ve never seen him act so lazy on the field! Not going to lie, I really think all the time he’s spending on computers is hurting his game. Is that even possible?
— Tired of Technology
Dear Technology: The biggest problem I see with this new shift to virtual learning is an uptick in sedentary behavior. Computers and social distancing guidelines, by nature, restrict movement within the classroom. As a result, kids are sitting for longer time periods throughout the day.
As you probably know, a sedentary lifestyle brings with it all sorts of negative health implications. However, the few weeks your son has spent glued to a screen at school probably aren’t long enough for him to have any serious problems.
His athletic performance is another story.
Hip flexibility is one of the most important attributes of a successful athlete. We use our hips to run, jump, and move laterally. The good news is, everybody starts off with great hips.
Want proof? Just look at babies. Have you ever seen a baby with stiff hips? No way! They can do the splits without batting an eye. As time goes on, though, most of us grow stiff. And this mostly has to do with sitting.
Different stretches can greatly help loosen up stiff hips. A simple squat will do wonders! Urge your son to check with his teachers about taking standing breaks. Surely, they’ll allow him time between assignments to move his legs and stretch.
Outside of athletics, kids’ brains are also at risk. Who knows what sort of impact virtual learning will have on their cognition and critical thinking skills. In this regard, I offer one simple tool — a good book! And luckily, I know just the book for kids struggling with the shift to virtual learning:
BOOKS MAKE BRAINZ TASTE BAD!
Okay, you caught me… I’m the author of this book. It was published last week and awarded a #1 New Release ranking on Amazon. BMBTB deals directly with the same topic covered in this column, except in a much more lighthearted, kid-friendly way (zombie teachers and brain-munching screens!)
If you end up purchasing this book for your children or grandchildren, I only have one final suggestion — ask them to read it while standing up!