Fitness for Children at Home

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Physical activity is good for children’s bodies. It promotes growth and development and should be encouraged throughout the day for younger children. At least 60 minutes of activity a day helps older children and adolescents grow strong bones and muscles, build endurance and maintain a healthy weight.

Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day. Less than 50% of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity. Children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment. About 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States. Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adult. [1]

A good way to get kids exercising is to be supportive and acknowledge that this is a hard time for everyone. One suggestion is to lead by example and let your kids see you exercising so they can experience fitness as part of a healthy life. [2]

What Motivates Kids?

There’s a lot to gain from regular physical activity, but how do you encourage kids to do it? Here are some ways to keep your kids moving at home. [1][3][4]

Make Fitness Part of Your Child’s Day – When school is in session, if your children can walk or bike to and from school, they will get many of the physical and mental benefits of being active, while you save on trips to the gas station. When school is not in session, walk or bike with your kids when you can and organize family walking or bicycling trips around the block.

Make Screen Time an Active Time– When going to play outside isn’t an option, your children can play interactive video games that require physical activity such as tennis, bowling or baseball. You also can use dance videos and active video games for some physically-active television time.

Get Help with Household Chores– Encourage your children to participate in active outdoor chores such as raking leaves, pulling weeds, watering plants, sweeping the walks or cleaning the garage. Make the chores feel fun with upbeat music and be sure to join in to get them done as a family.

Physical Education- For healthy lifestyles, children need both free play and specific instruction on physical skills. An easy way for kids to meet this goal is by participating in physical education as part of the school day, when kids are in school. With the popularity of mobile phones, the number of kids stepping out of their homes to play is getting lesser and lesser. The truth remains that kids are the most adamant and incorrigible of all. But with the right kind of tricks you can motivate them to exercise and sketch out a healthy lifestyle for them

Make it fun- Make exercising look like fun. Either ask their friends to join them or make the whole family do a family workout. Include more cardio and fun exercises instead of slow and heavy exercises. To make exercising more fun, plan a dance routine which would be unanimously loved by kids of all ages. Other daily activities which can make your kids move a muscle is by making a short trip to the market or walking your dog to the park.

Be a role model- Your kids watch you closely and try to mimic everything you do, be it good or bad. Thus, it is important to have a workout routine for yourself in order to inculcate habit of working out in your kids from the very start. If your kids see you doing exercise, they will most likely practice a set physical routine on their own.

Motivate don’t force- Never make exercising a compulsion for your kids. If they see it as a burden, they will never do it willingly. Motivate them by either telling the benefits of exercise or find ways which can make them do some kind of physical activity.

You can also use competition as a motivator. Make your kids run to see who runs the fastest, or who does the maximum number of pushups or who can skip the rope the longest, without stopping.

Limit screen time- We as kids used to spend almost all our evening playing all kinds of outdoor games with our friends. The current generation has seen a paradigm shift to kids playing games on laptops and mobile phones, due to the kind of technology available.

It is not required to ban mobiles from your kid’s usual routine, what you can do is fix time slots. Make it a habit that they can use the mobile for 2 hours only if they play a sport or exercise for 2 hours. This will not only limit their screen time but will also make them engage in a physical activity.

Play a spot- Encourage your kids to learn at least one sport. Find out where his or her interest lie and give them professional coaching in it. If coaching is not an option, you can ask them to dedicate at least one hour to practicing that sport.

You can play cricket, badminton, basketball or even swim. Give your kids sports gear as a gift to keep them interested in the sport. Cycles, basketball, racquets, cricket bats or footballs are some amazing gifts to give to promote sports in your kids

Plan family vacation- Plan family vacations to locations which will involve some kind of physical workout. You can do hiking, cycling, snorkeling and much more. These activities will not only let you explore more places but will keep you and your family healthy together.

Talk with your child’s doctor- Your child’s doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child’s doctor can also suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.

Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate- For example, 7 or 8 year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all appropriate activities.

Provide active toys- Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.

Do not overdo it- When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child’s weight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child’s doctor.

Preventing Problems

Kids who participate in sports are at risk for injuries, so be sure yours wear the proper protective equipment, such as a helmet and protective pads when roller-blading.

Kids who specialize in one sport are also at risk of overuse injuries, including stress fractures and joint injuries.

A child with a chronic health condition or disability should not be excluded from fitness activities.

Kids who enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives. And staying fit can improve how kids do at school, build self-esteem, prevent obesity, and decrease the risk of serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease later in life. If your child complains of pain during or after physical activity, talk to your doctor about which activities are safe for your child.



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