Today, the concept of exercise is almost nonexistent with the arrival of videogames, televisions and very easily available modes of transit. This too, though in a lot of ways is a boon, is also a clear and present menace. Lack of exercise, in some ways is more harmful to kids than to adults. The main benefits of regular physical exercise for kids are:
1. SOCIAL SKILLS– Usually physical activities involve team play, winning and losing, sharing, discipline and taking turns. This will help your child grow out of a period when everything he had his eyes on was his, and will prepare him for the world.
2. MENTAL APTITUDE– Organized physical team activities often promote logical reasoning. Hence they help develop concentration and reasoning skills. They also help create new connections between different parts of the brain. The high oxygen content in the blood while outside is also a treat for their growing body.
3. PHYSICAL SKILLS– Involvement in regular physical exercise will improve hand-eye coordination, balance, body strength, flexibility – which in turn will contribute to your child’s confidence to approach all kind of activities whether physical or not.
4. HEALTH BENEFITS – Involvement of regular physical activities provides a lot of health benefits.
a. A stronger immune system – Children with regular physical exercise are less prone to colds, allergies and diseases. (Including some kinds of CANCER!!!)
b. A lower blood pressure, higher carbohydrate metabolism and an improvement in your child’s cholesterol profile.
c. Exercise strengthens the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart and lungs.
d. Children develop stronger bone structure and muscle structure.
e. Helps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
f. Improves posture.
5. FAMILY TIES– Dedicating some time every week, for some physical activities with the whole family at the nearby park, pool or even at your back yard will ensure you are giving everyone a priority for quality time with each other and will strengthen your family as a unit.
6. COMMUNICATION SKILLS– Hanging out with children of the same age helps to develop the important communication skills, especially when engaging in team sports. Children become efficient in expressing and communicating their ideas better.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Though the prospects offered by regular exercise are great, it’s never easy to draw kids out for the same. Here are some ideas to get you’re your little ones on course for a healthier life.
1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE – Children always like to copy what their parents do. So if you are a couch potato yourself, there is no avail to complaining that your kid is one too. Get out, lead by example. Take the stairs instead of escalators or wait, walk the distance rather than driving, whenever you can. Your kids will, for sure learn and copy.
2. JOIN IN – Children love it when parents play along with them. So go running or cycling with them.
3. ASK FOR THEIR HELP – Children love to be treated as adults. Ask for their help whilst going to the market, while gardening or even small housework. Remember, your aim is to get them off the couch.
4. MAKE A TIMETABLE –Get a time table ready. Time for watching TV, videogames, bath, homework and everything you can think of and keep up to it. Make exercise also an important part of the day like bathing, eating, homework or sleeping. Habits last long!
5. GIVE RECOGNITION– Make sure your kid knows you are happy about running longer than usual or even jumping higher. To children, even the smallest acknowledgement means a lot and it will motivate them to get out and try harder the next time.
6. USE EXERCISE AS A REWARD– Forcing kids to do anything will go south very easily. Rather than making them exercise forcefully, allow them to go out and play for 30 mins after their homework or something tht they aren’t entirely crazy about.
7. LETS THE KIDS CHOOSE– Go out and, from time to time let kids choose what to do. Even though the activity isn’t as physical as you’d have liked it to be, children will be more motivated to get out in the days to come.
8. LET THEM UNDERSTAND– Explain to them why exercising is so important. Kids are intelligent beings. They’ll understand. And then all you’ll have to do is to send in regular encouragements.
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.