Encouraging Fitness in Kids

Guest article by Yashmeen Chauhan Manak [FB page]

Encouraging physical activity or exercise amongst kids is very important in today’s age where running around, playing in the parks, street games, cycling etc have taken a back seat because of television, video games and internet. To promote fitness for kids, it is crucial that the exercises should be fun to keep them motivated.

For parents, the greatest concern when it comes to fitness for kids is which physical activity or exercise is appropriate at what age during the growing years of a child. Before I move on to what kind of exercise is suitable for kids of specific age groups, I want the attention of parents here as to how they can motivate their children towards exercise.

An active lifestyle of parents can influence the impressionable mindset of a kid. So if you want your child to be active, you have to be active yourself. Parents should start teaching their kids about exercise as a lifestyle to take care of their body and what all benefits they can reap rather than a punishment or a chore. Praise, reward and encourage exercise. For age group 5 – 10, here is a variety of activities children will enjoy and reap physical and mental health benefits; Soccer, Basketball, Cricket, Baseball, Dance classes, Group workouts like Aerobics, Tennis and other Racquet Sports, Skating, Cycling, Martial Arts, Bowling, Swimming, Obstacle Courses and Skipping Rope. Even if your child is inclined towards video games, you can go for motion gaming options.

You can analyse which sports your child likes more and promote that. Apart from above, I have a few tips for parents to keep their children hooked to being physically active.

  • For your child’s next birthday, you may schedule a Bowling party or take all the kids to a relay race set up outside or even arrange for an obstacle course using playground equipment and other items like cones, balls, skipping rope etc.
  • Present your child activity related equipment, games or outings as rewards for getting good marks or on birthdays etc.
  • Be a role model yourself and let your child follow your footsteps.

For age group 11+, children can even start gym exercises but only under the supervision of a professional. If a child is overweight or obese, parents may be interested in getting the child enrolled in a gym. There are so many exercises like cardiovascular, calisthenics, Group exercises etc. which children 11+ can perform. They can also go for resistance / weight training in the gym where a fitness professional should prescribe the exercise routine with strict supervision on the form and technique. A well structured resistance / weight training program can result in an increased strength in bones and muscles during these years.

Hence, incorporating exercise or physical activity into your child’s lifestyle will not only promote good physical health but also develop self esteem, confidence, ability to tackle difficult situations and a positive outlook towards life.

Yashmeen is an ACSM Certified Fitness Expert, Reebok certified Aerobics Instructor, Gladrags Mrs. India 2005 Best Body Award Winner and the owner of Sculpt Gym.

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