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How can you Keep your Children Fit?

Unlike adults who exercise in the gym to keep themselves healthy and fit, fitness in children requires lots of physical activities involving movement to keep them active and alert. This can include outdoor games like running, jumping, skipping, swimming, badminton, cycling or skating. Attention should be paid also to indoor games to improve mental concentration and hand-eye coordination like chess, table tennis and puzzle-solving. Some activities like dancing help to keep kids happy and fit at the same time.

Why is Fitness Important in Children?

Keeping children fit through exercise, sports and dance benefits them in the following ways:

  • Helps build stronger bones and muscles
  • Keeps obesity at bay
  • Stimulates growth
  • Improves metabolism
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Helps with sleeping well
  • Keeps children alert and focused
  • Keeps blood pressure and glucose levels in check
  • Reduces chances of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Helps build immunity and prevents minor illnesses
  • Improves body balance and flexibility

Things to Avoid to Improve Fitness in Children

Try to discourage a sedentary lifestyle in young children. This means they should not be sitting for long periods of time playing video games, using their smartphones or digital devices, or watching endless television. You should also discourage the use of devices during mealtimes.

Fitness Activities based on Age Group

Fitness activities should be incorporated into a child’s lifestyle from an early age. As early as 3 to 5 years old, children should be encouraged to mix and play with other kids. As the child continues to grow, they can participate in more advanced activities or sports such as badminton, cycling, swimming, climbing and running. Children should never be left unmonitored. They should be allotted a specific amount of time for play and exercise, so that they do not become physically exhausted or dehydrated.

As a child reaches 13 years and above, they may develop an interest for more intense activities such as weight lifting. In such scenarios, monitor your child closely and according to the recommendations of a trained instructor.

Useful tips to Maintain Fitness in Children

  • Try to participate in sports and other activities with your kids
  • Encourage your child to stretch their body
  • Don’t force your child to comply
  • Even small efforts should be rewarded and acknowledged
  • Encourage good sleep habits for your child
  • Do not neglect the importance of a nutritious meal
  • Maintain a routine and stick to the timings

What to do if your Child’s Fitness Levels are Deteriorating?

If you notice that your child does not enjoy sports or outdoor activities, and that they are getting weaker, losing appetite or attention, then you should consult a child care specialist or paediatrician. Your doctor will be able to make a better analysis based on your child’s symptoms, medical history, lifestyle, height and body weight.

Children need care and empathy so you should spend time with your child to understand their situation. This will help them relax their minds and cope with their problems better.

Other Related Topics

  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore
  • Freeman Health System
  • Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre

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