Why physical activity at an early age is beneficial!

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physical activity 1

Most of us are stuck in a fast – paced lifestyle that barely gives us time to breathe. When both parents work (or even if one doesn’t) there is still a rush early in the morning to get ready for school, offices and by the time one gets home, one is too tired to move. Although children are back from school early and have almost half a day for themselves, the changing times finds children preferring gaming consoles, the internet and the T.V more enjoyable than playing outside. As they grow older, they are stuck with tuitions and other academic classes, which gave them no time for any physical activity. Even if they want to go out and play, parents usually warn them of impending exams and their ever so doomed future that they end up staying at home. Why is it so hard to let kids go out and play for at least an hour? Several studies have claimed that exercise should begin in a person way early in their childhood – through activities like playing outside or as they grow older engaging themselves in sports or dancing. Physical activity from a young age helps prevent heart related diseases and other sicknesses like diabetes. Moreover, at a younger age your body responds well to exercise as your metabolism and stamina levels are high. Just because they’re kids does not mean they aren’t prone to health risks. Why not start going for a jog at 15? It will become a habit when you’re 40.  It is not uncommon for adolescent as young as 15 to get diabetes. I know a family who lost their 17 year old son to heavy diabetes and a heart failure. The doctors had warned him several times of his expounding weight but both he and his family refused to pay attention. A 10 year old who plays outside is more likely to live longer than the one who stays at home watching T.V. When children are toddlers parents love it when they’re chubby. A they grow older is it hard for them to see the effects of being overweight on the child? If a 20 year old girl begins exercising, do not take it for granted that she wants to emulate ‘those size zero models’. She is exercising not dieting and the former is always advisable over the latter. Regular physical activities actually help in:

  • Living longer and healthier.
  • Helping you feel confident about yourself. (It is great at boosting self-esteem)
  • Decrease chances of depression. It also improves your mood considerably. It is also a great stress – buster.
  • Sleeping well at night.
  • Feeling more active and energized throughout the day.
  • Keeping your mind healthy.
  • Control your weight or helping you to get to a healthier weight.
  • Having stronger muscles and bones.
  • Keeping diseases at bay.

physical activity 2 As a parent with a young child it is important to make your child learn or engage in some sport like football or cricket. This also helps the child become more interactive and social. Learning yoga at an early age, swimming or a type of dancing can not only be enjoyable for the child but will also improve his/her health. It keeps your mind active and we know how important it is for our minds to be fresh while studying. Even if you have a child who is studying for their board exams or an entrance, half an hour of some activity in fresh air will enhance their performance. The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development states that children between the age 1 – 5 should get several hours of unstructured (doesn’t have to be a specific activity) play daily. It also states that toddler between the ages 1 – 3 should not spent more than 60 minutes of their time in sedentary activity. Also those between 3 – 5 years should not spend more than 60 minutes in front of TV. These years are crucial for development both mentally and physically, hence indulging your child in electronic media at this age is exposing them to health risks and not allowing them to interact socially. Children who are active physically early on have a better development that the other children. These include:

  • Better development in social and motor skills.
  • An increase in the readiness for schools.
  • Muscles, joints and bones that build and develop faster.
  • Better ability in lowering fat and blood pressure.
  • Better at combating depression and anxiety.
  • An increased capacity to learn.
  • A better development in healthy social, cognitive and emotional skills.
  • Building strength, self-confidence, concentration, and coordination from an early age.
  • Physically active children have fewer chronic health problems, don’t fall sick that often and hence don’t miss school, and have a significantly reduced risk for a number of childhood and adult diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, and mental illness.

Lastly, children should engage in physical activities based on the following guidelines: Endurance: Building up physical endurance from an early age is important for a healthy development of heart and lungs. Activities like swimming, skate – boarding, dancing, martial arts, football, hockey or even wall – climbing help children in building a better physical endurance. Flexibility: When children learn to be a flexible at an early age it improves their posture, reduces muscle soreness and stiffness and increases relaxation. Yoga, dancing, skipping are activities that help improve flexibility. Strength: When kids indulge in activities like lifting slightly heavy objects and moving them about – they make their bones and muscles strong.  Make the child help you in gardening, carrying grocery bags or get them to learn gymnastics. The importance of physical activity cannot be denied.  Start early and lead a healthier life when older.