How to Encourage Physical Activity among Children
In today’s times, physical activity has become a huge concern; the rates of obesity among children are one the rise globally. In terms of reasons, there are some obvious ones that have been responsible for such a change. Technology, eating habits are the two instant things that come to mind. The extent to which social media, electronic games, etc. have managed to capture the attention of children is unprecedented & dramatic. This represents nothing but the large-scale transformation that can be seen worldwide in terms of the change in lifestyle. Such large-scale use of technology in our daily lives represents the larger economic turn that took place in India post 1990.
We have all heard that different generations deal with different problems of their times; this topic is representative of that generational turn that has taken place. For all of us born in times before these, lack of physical activity was never a problem; if anything, there was abundance of it.
However, in today’s time with the attractions of technology, children become addicted to it before they even know it. From introducing children to technological devices early on in their childhood to our excessive reliance on it for all things, there are multiple reasons for such a transformation. While no one could deny the benefits of technology, this trend among children is also dangerous. There needs to be a discovered a middle path that can reduce this disturbing trend. What follows are some suggestive measures that can be adopted to achieve the same.
- Establish routines for the family- One-way young children acquire all kinds of habits is by looking at the ones around them, especially the parents. Hence, in order to ensure that children imbibe habits of outdoor playing is by doing it yourself. A fixed routine can be followed whereby all the members of the family can together perform outdoor activities like playing games, cycling etc., for a fixed period of time every day. Such measures ensure that our children spend a certain amount of time outdoors, and provides a good opportunity to spend some quality family time which is crucial in its own ways.
- Encourage sports as long-term engagements- It is safe to say that Indians are not very athletic people. The kind of mindset we have towards sports leaves a lot to be desired. The excessive pressure on kids to focus on their studies and limit their sporting activities is actually damaging in the long run. We generally fail to realize the necessity of sports in a children’s life, and the positive impact that it has on them. It is a time when a child can truly feel liberated and unrestricted. Such quality time can do wonders to the psychology of a child. It is also important to encourage sports without looking at it as a professional option for your children, for such expectations produce its own kind of pressures on a child. Hence, it is important to value sports as simply an activity that is as crucial to growth of a child as good education, and food.
- Promote physical activity wherever possible– This goes back to the larger point of establishing routines. It is important that physical activities like walking, cycling, climbing stairs, etc. are promoted wherever possible. The initial desire to use easier options of travelling by a vehicle, using elevators, etc. must be discouraged among children at all possible times. Such values can be inculcated among them over time, and can prove to be really beneficial in the long run. There can be so many more instances of enforcing such healthy ways of lifestyle like sending children to grocery stores, encouraging them to walk to school if possible, etc. In order to ensure a healthy lifestyle for the kids, it becomes crucial to resort to all such possible measures and ensure a balance.
- Minimum use of technological devices– A very common phenomenon that we witness today is how young children are introduced to technology through mobile phones, computers, tablets, etc. at such a young age, which becomes hard to undo. Internet is an addictive place, for the vast amount of resources it is capable of introducing us to. Thus, it becomes crucial on part of the parents to ensure that children are not used to such platforms and devices at such an early age, and excess to them is limited to fulfilling only their needs. Children today have multiple options where they can look for entertainment. Thus, it is necessary that these options are reduced and outdoor activities are incentivized over mobile phones & other technological devices. Further, it also becomes crucial for parents to regulate their own use of such devices, especially in front of children. A narrative has to be produced around the importance of physical activity in the family, and the parents have to change their own lifestyles accordingly.
- Taking lessons outside the classroom– Teachers can also play an active role in ensuring that children spend enough time outdoors to keep their minds fresh. Sports is also crucial for its capability to teach players a lesson or two in life. The importance of team-work, the need to take care of others, friendships are values that can be promoted & taught by sports. Lessons can thus be built around such sporting activities and values taught to children outside of the classroom. It serves the dual purpose of educating them and keeping them fit.
There can be so many more ways of encouraging physical activities amongst children. There are all sorts of events that organized built around the idea of getting people out of their homes. There are dancing clubs that children can join, planning family picnics is another way of ensuring some physical activity, and many more. The larger idea must be to always be on the lookout for the possibility of such activities. There must an awareness as to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, and to always incentivize the performance of such activities.