I had a colleague tell me a concerning incident that happened at her work recently. She runs a swimming school for toddlers and children, and whilst teaching one of her students, this child’s sibling sat on the side having a massive tantrum. When my colleague looked closer, she realized that this toddler was crying because she was trying to turn the page of the book that she was reading, but she only knew how to use the i-pad finger slide to turn a page, and could not figure out how to practically turn the page. She sat crying until the mother had to get down and turn the page for her.
Hearing this story set off a few alarm bells in me because I believe this touches on a main cause for the increase of inactivity and health issues amongst children and teenagers in this day and age.
I read recently that children and teens between ages eight and 18 spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes daily playing video games, going online, watching TV and using phones or tablets.
With all of this time spent sitting and consumed when do they get time to get the heart rates up and muscles working?
As much as technology is important for social and emotional development and is a huge part of our society, our way of living, it is so important to strive for the balance between our techno-savvy development together with our physical activity and improving health.
Many of my young moms at the studio ask me why should they get their kids to be active- it usually means more effort for both the mom and child to be motivated and to follow through and it can be costly for the parents. Despite the challenges, believe me that the benefits from exercise or sport completely outway any short or long term challenges that could be seen.
Physical activity will not only help today’s children by preventing them from becoming obese or helping them to lose weight if necessary, it will also teach them healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Some of the benefits of activity/sport/exercise for children:
1.Children who exercise are more likely to keep exercising as an adult-promoting healthier and longer life.
2. With an increase of obesity, exercise helps kids achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
3. Exercise helps build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, bones and joints- agility prevents injury and illness.
4. Team sports help with development of important interpersonal skills- patience, selflessness.
5. Exercise improves the quantity and quality of sleep.- No more grumpy and tired children.
6. Children who exercise have greater self-esteem and better self-images from positive re-inforcement from coach or parents and good results.
7. Participating in regular physical activity prevents or delays the development of many chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension) and promotes health.
8 Children who are active report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression and a better overall mood.
9. Exercise helps improve motor coordination and enhances the development of various motor performance skills.
10. Activity at school tends to help with participation aswell as attention during school.
Healthy body- Healthy heart- Healthy Mind should be motivation enough for any parent to encourage their child to get out and be active and healthy.
Luckily we live in an era where so much is available and accessible, so even if kicking a ball or running is not your child’s thing, get them to dance, ride a bike or even attend a kiddies yoga class.
If budget is an issue, a simple walk will even do the trick.
Put on some music and get them to dance at home, or throw/kick a ball to them, and most importantly encourage them to be involved in school activities. (Sport and extra murals)
I am not anti the ipad, just anti replacing any activity with the use of technology because it seems ‘easier’. Even downloading some fitness apps could be a great way to use both.
Balance is key to obtaining the healthiest children.