Play has taken on a different grab with many children. Activity is more with the hands and minds watching television, at the computer or even on the mobile for more than two to three hours a day on a average. A sedentary lifestyle at a young age leads to an inactive adult life with its attendant health problems. Curb this and usher them on to a path of fitness.
Exercise should be as much as part of a child's daily routine as eating and sleeping. Start young to stay young. The benefits of exercise grow with the years. Physical activity increases cardiovascular endurance, builds muscle strength, improves flexibility, coordination and balance. This reduces chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and other obesity and stress related problems. Exercise also helps manage weight, improve alertness, builds team spirit and a sense of well being and enhances self-image.
Play in any form is exercise, be it running, chasing, catching, bouncing a ball or even turning somersaults. Informal play can be moulded into regular exercise as the child grows. While the school has physical training as part of its timetable, parents and the family too should encourage their children to be fit. Proper diet and exercise nurture good health. Exercise builds the three vital elements of fitness- endurance, strength and flexibility.
Fitness has to be fun. Exercise need not be imposed and structured but can be made fun. For toddlers it can be simple and enjoyable. They can play at the park, jump, walk and run.
For pre-schoolers it can be more skilled like throwing a ball, hoping balancing, pedalling a tricycle etc., For school-age children it can be rules for games and sports. Moderately intense activities can include swimming, bicycling, team sports and outdoor play. They should start with non-competitive sports and opt for competitive sports.
Adolescents develop bodily changes and gain height and weight as they grow into young adults. The choice and form of exercise is their own but it should be age appropriate. Whether its jogging and running, competitive sports, fitness classes, gymnastics, bicycling or exercise videos it has to be vigorous and thrice a week.
Specific exercises that enhance muscular strength and bone health include skipping, climbing, jumping and gymnastics. aerobic activity develops endurance, strengthens the heart improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to the cells. Aerobic activities include basketball, bicycling, skating, tennis swimming, walking, jogging and running.
Flexibility exercises help improve suppleness, allowing the body bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Flexibility exercises include simple stretches and yogaSana's.
Parents should allot time, be regular, set goals and review and reward the child. As a parent you can encourage, inspire, guide, support and quip the child's activity. Help them by providing equipments, transportation and above all participate or even be a role model.
courtesy : Wellness, The Hindu, March 26,2009.