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Contrary to popular belief, Fitness is not centred on obesity alone. In some cases a child that appears to be overweight, could possibly be more fit than a child of average weight.

As a parent, one has to bear in mind that an unfit child has an increased risk of developing health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, just to name a few.Fitness also affects the mental health of a child and kids with healthy lives now, are more prone to have healthy lives when they are adults.

Times have changed drastically and unlike the old days, children hardly climb trees any more or use their bikes as often. Study shows that children’s heart and lung fitness is declining by 4.3% a decade across the world. Sedentary lifestyles and poor diet (junk food and overeating) is seen as the main contributor to this decline. Sedentary lifestyles include: watching television, playing video games, spending time online e.t.c. This leads to less physical behaviour. Studies have also shown that children who have a television in their bedroom are less fit than their peers without one.

I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure that your kids get regular daily exercise. This can be either at home, school, community or a sports academy. There are a wide range of sports for kids, so let your kid decide what sport they want to take part in.

Apart from the obvious sports such as football and basketball, other forms of productive exercise and sports that your kids can get involved in are; fast walking, jogging, biking, roller blading, running, swimming, jumping rope and even dance and martial arts. Remember to get your kids to warm up and cool down before and after each exercise routine.

Fitness activities are also a great way to help your child make friends and memories that can last a lifetime. Who knows you may even discover that your child has a hidden talent.

Medical experts recommend that children and young people get at least 90 minutes of physical activity a day. This activity should be of moderate intensity – in other words, you should work up a bit of a sweat and get slightly out of breath. But if you can manage something a bit more strenuous, then that’s even better. It is best for your kid to avoid weight training for now till he/she is over 15.

These days participating in a sport is not seen to be as “cool” or “interesting” as it used to be. This is why i have gathered some tips to help “trick” your child into exercising. And if you are extra keen on finding out about more sneaky tricks, read personal trainer Larysa DiDio’s book entitled “Sneaky Fitness”. Her book contains over 100 toddler-to-tween-targeted strategies, games and tips for exercising children. Some handy tricks include:

  • If they must play a computer game, have them do it while sitting on a stability ball – It doesn’t have to be either or, you can play video games and exercise at the same time!
  • Get them a Nitendo Wii – Packages like the Wii Fit or Wii Sport works wonders!
  • Slip & Slide – Say to your kids “go make your socks as dirty as possible” and get them sliding across the floor and put on some fun music.
  • Get them the dog they’ve always wanted! – Growing up we always had a dogs in the house, and as a kid, boy, i cannot begin to imagine the amount of calories i burnt chasing after them!
  • Dig the China – Get your kids digging in sand and filling up a pail.
  • Plant a mini trampoline or hula hoop in the TV room.

Healthy eating is also of high importance when considering an individual’s fitness level. In today’s fast food culture, it is essential that you make healthy nutritious food choices for your kids. Here are 3 tips on how you can promote good nutrition:

  • Promote 3 balanced meals every day and make it a necessity – Plan these meals out so that you ensure that your kids have a balanced diet.
  • Portion Control – Remember that one of the contributors to obesity is over eating, so no need to force feed your kids!
  • Allow them to come on grocery shopping tips for you –Make it an enjoyable experience so that they will be able to relate healthy eating to fun eating.

Lastly, always make it a point to be the ultimate role model to your kids, i.e lead by example!

Photo credit: Supersrtock


Debby Soetan

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Born and raised in Nigeria, I currently reside in the UK working as a Chemical Engineer. I have always been a physically active individual, and have had a love of outdoor sports since I was a child. When I am not in the middle of my hectic career I enjoy keeping fit, not only does it allow me to unwind from the stress that accompanies my profession but it contributes to both mental and physical strength. Apart from gyming my other fitness-related activities include cycling and running. Although I do not possess a Physical Education or related degree, I spend countless hours studying the latest research in fitness and nutrition to be up to date with scientific information, which makes me an avid fitness enthusiast. I believe that the human body is an amazing and very capable life form which can be maximised by living an active lifestyle. In addition to providing valuable fitness tips I also create workout programs and diet plans, formed around an individual’s schedule and career. Also these programs cater to people who have specific targets such as strength training for building total muscle, weight loss or body sculpting. With my articles, I aim to encourage Africans to live a healthy lifestyle and help to improve a person’s self esteem through embracing physical fitness.

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