Friday, 22 November 2013 09:18

Why doesn't my child exercise?

'Tis a common refrain these days amongst most parents, especially in the bigger cities, where obesity rates amongst children (very young children, at that) is rising at a shocking pace.

Parents often "try" and get their children to exercise, or incorporate some sort of physical activity in their lives to counter this - but more often that not, these efforts are in vain. And those of you that have tried to get a recalcitrant kid up for that 5AM swim, or 7AM jog know just how it feels.

(Side note: The "5AM swim" part brings back many a pleasant memory of me going swimming in a largish man made lake at exactly that time during summer vacations with my 77 (at the time) year old grandfather - great, great stuff, and if HE could do it at that age and then put in a full day of work - well - we ALL can!)

Anyway, most end up blaming the Internet, Iphones, TV, and various other gadgets that have infiltrated our lives for their kids inactivity. Some put it down to an unhealthy diet. And yet others say that it's impossible to follow an ideal diet these days with most of everything you buy at the being stuffed full of unhealthy growth hormones and chemicals.

All true to a degree - but guess whose the mail culprit here?

It's US.

Yes, you heard that right - it's parents that are ultimately to blame for their kids not incorporating movement into their daily lives.

Why do I say this?

Well, first off, kids (especially infants and toddlers) LOVE to move around. Ever seen a 1 year old sit still for hours in front of the computer - I bet not - and thats not because we force them to move - it's because movement comes NATURALLY to them.

But, at the same time, guess how little kids "learn"?

Yes, you got that right - by watching others - and those others are most likely to be their parents, since parents spend the most amount of time with their children (or they should, at any rate). And if the average parents daily exercise routine consists of plopping his or her backside into a couch and performing "pretezel" curls with a bag of chips or whatever other junk comes to hand, guess what the kid is going to learn?

The very same thing. His instincts will urge him to fight against this slothfulness for a good few months, but they'll eventually lose out - and what was a healthy, naturally active kid starts turning into "Tubby" in no time at all.

Not good - and at that point we have parents literally forcing their kids to get up and move, which further puts them off exercise.

Not good at all.

And the funny part is, kids do NOT need to be forced into moving around. If they see you moving around, they'll naturally try to follow you. If they see you going for a hill climb every morning, chances are THEY will gladly follow you up that very hill themselves - and complain if you don't allow them to. Ditto for other physical activities.

And whats more - they'll be HAPPY for doing so. I know this for a fact - my little girl is never happier than when allowed to freely move her arms and legs about, and she has a huge smile on her face while doing so.

More importantly, this sort of movements is what "toughens" kids up for more demanding physical activity at a later stage - and also speeds up the development process immensely. I'll cite another example here - I often try and get my baby girl to "stand" on my chest. Now, being she's just two months old she obviously doesnt have the strength to stand on her own, so I put my hands under her armpits, position her feet on my chest, and then allow her to try and "stand".  

This usually used to result in her flailing her legs around without control - but over the last two weeks or so, something remarkable has happened - my little girl is actually RESISTING the force of gravity towards my chest.

That's right - I can actually feel her little muscles beginning to work as she tries to "climb" up Daddy's chest.

Now, do you think I'll have any trouble convincing her to go for that daily hill climb - or swim - or pushups, for that matter?

I don't think so - and neither will YOU, my friend, if you lead by example in front of your kids.

Lead a slothful life, and chances are your kids will turn into couch potatoes before you know it.

Lead a healthy and active life, and your children will naturally gravitate towards doing the same.

It's that simple - and if you don't believe me, well, I have this to say to you - TRY IT, and then come back to me!

Anyway, that's it for me today. Back later with another report on how my baby girl "sits" on my back while doing pushups - that one's a story in itself!

Best Regards,
Rahu