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Why your children need exercise too

A fitness coach explains how physical activity can help children lead a better quality of life

Ensuring that children get used to an active life early offers massive benefits
Ensuring that children get used to an active life early offers massive benefits (Unsplash)

"Children needs to be physically active regularly, to lead a healthy lifestyle including personal development and growth," says Geetika Dhuper, a premium coach at Fittr, an online fitness and nutrition platform. According to her, ensuring that children get used to an active life early offers massive benefits: healthy growth and development, confidence, stronger bones, muscles and joints, better posture and balance, a stronger heart, social interaction, learning new skills, enhanced focus, and concentration. 

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Physical activities also help build enhanced motor skills which ultimately improves basic and daily movements. Motor skills like eating food properly, tying shoelaces and sometimes holding pencils, crayons can also be developed quickly, says Dhuper. "Be it at home or outside; children need to spend a minimum of one hour of playing or involving themselves in some form of physical activity." 

And no, you do not need to send your ten-year-old to the gym. Everyday activities like a catch game, swimming, stairs, a sport that involves physical activity, walking to the nearby store, etc., are small things that help maintain good activity levels, believes Dhuper. 

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Not sure how to start. Think of including activities that build the following. 

Endurance

This consists of activities that involve the constant movement of large muscles group for a longer duration: these will help increase endurance levels amongst children. "Endurance-based activities increase the heart rate and cause quick breathing, which can benefit healthy lungs and heart," says Dhuper. She lists out activities that help build endurance in children, including skating, swimming, dance, cycling, hiking, jogging, football, cricket and wall climbing. 

Flexibility

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Various activities improve flexibility and encourage kids to bend, stretch and try to reach for things. "These daily movements allow children to function without pain and restrictions in muscles and joints,  maintain a correct posture, minimise the risk of injuries, reduce stiffness and soreness and relax the body," she says. According to her, the best way to get there is by including regular sessions of gymnastics, stretching and yoga.  

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Strength 

"To build stronger muscles, it is a must that children participate in activities that work against resistance," believes Dhuper. Better muscular strength helps a child in continuing with daily activities with ease. "These activities also help develop stronger bones and muscles, which, in turn, help gradually lift heavier objects and enhance overall development and growth," she says. The best way to help your child get stronger is by involving them in everyday chores such as carrying groceries,  disposing of garbage, and park-based activities like monkey bars and poles will also help build strength.

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Be mindful of these 

Keep your child hydrated

Ensure that they use child-friendly sunscreen and carry mosquito repellent

Provide correct protective equipment if needed

Allow them to ease into a new activity 

Motivate, but don't force them to exercise. A reward will be more effective than punishment. 

Ensure that a warmup and cooldown are included in their session 

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