Physically active children are physically and psychologically healthier, which translates to better performance in school and in other areas of daily life.
However, in this modern day and age, children spend hours in front of TVs and computers, playing video games and using social media.
Experts say children between the ages of two and five should have less than an hour of sedentary screen time per day, while children and teens between the ages of five and 17 should limit the use of electronic media to more than two hours a day.
Lack of exercises for children will increase stress because kids, too, get stressed. And prolonged stress in young children can slow or even stop brain development and physical growth.
Children who do not exercise could also suffer lack of sleep. Every child should sleep for 9-11 hours a night, depending on their age.
When they do not get enough sleep, it can lead to attention problems, short-term memory loss, and inconsistent performance, which will eventually impact on their grades.
Exercise also boosts blood flow to the brain, which really helps children in almost everything, from concentration to alertness to problem solving. Moderate activity increases brain function, cognition and academic performance in children.
Lack of exercise can also make it more difficult for your child to maintain a healthy weight and regulate blood. Regular exercise can help reduce chances of developing disease now and in the future.
To help your children keep fit, you can help them do a variety of age-appropriate activities that are developmentally appropriate.
You can also set a regular schedule of physical activities that will help them get used to the idea of being active, and with time it will become hard for them to remain sedentary for long hours.
Also, make being active a part of everyday life for them, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Children do what they see more than what they are told. Which calls for parents and guardians to be physically active and lead a healthy life to motivate their children to be active.
One way is to exercise and play together as a family. This will be fun and children will always want to come back for more.
Parents should limit the number of hours their children spend on tablets and other gadgets, leading to them having very little time for physical activities. This can be cut to an hour a day or less for children of two to five years.
During meals, screens should also be turned off, and TVs and video games should be kept out of children’s bedrooms.
Watching programmes with one’s children helps to understand what they are watching. Once in a while, parents should also try using exercise as transportation by walking the kids to school instead of driving.
Making a physical activity social can also help make children enjoy it. Invite your children’s friends and make it a contest between you and them, and they’ll probably have more fun. Try and see who can run faster, jump higher or do more push-ups and give the winner a prize.
Involving kids in household chore can also help them remain active. Task them to take their plate to the kitchen and wash it after eating, ask them to help wash the car or have them wash their handkerchiefs and fold their clothes sometimes, too.
Sometime children have the desire to be active, but parents may not feel comfortable letting them freely move around the neighbourhood as they did about a decade ago. So their opportunities to be active might be limited.
To counter this, you can ensure you provide an appropriate environment for them to engage in their activities or even stick around and watch them while they play just to give them a sense of safety.
Not all kids are created equal. Some are genetically inclined to be overweight, and so you should not force your kids to increase their activity level. Guide them instead.
The article first appeared on The star