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Encourage your child to be physically active?

Dr. M. Vijayalakshmi, M.D (Peds), M.D (USA), F.A.A.P

"Content Source: American Academy of Pediatrics."
Did you Know?
  • Children on average spend nearly 3 hours a day watching TV
  • Very few children and teens, aged 12 to 21 regularly exercise
  • Physical education is rarely mandated to be offered in schools
  • More than 15% of all school children are considered overweight
  • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults
  • 85% of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese
  • Sleep apnea occurs in approximately 7% of the children who are obese
Get the entire family moving

With the participation in all types of physical activity declining dramatically as a child's age and grade in school increases, it is important that physical activity be a part of regular family life. Studies have shown than lifestyles learned as children are much more likely to stay with a person into adulthood. If sports and physical activities are a family priority, they will provide children and parents with a strong foundation for a lifetime of health.

Benefits to the body
  • Builds and maintains healthy bones, joints and muscles
  • Controls weight and body fat
  • Improves appearance
  • Increases muscle strength, endurance and flexibility
  • Improves ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Reduce risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease later in life
  • Builds and improves athletic skills
Mental Benefits
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism
  • Organized sports foster team work and friendship
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Reduced anxiety, tension and depression
Getting Started...

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become physically active.

  • Talk to your pediatrician: Your pediatrician can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your pediatrician also can suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.
  • Find a fun activity: Help your child find a sport that she/he enjoys. The more they enjoy the activity, the more likely it is that she will continue. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
  • Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate: For example, a 7 or 8 year old-child is not ready for weight lifting or a 5-KM run, but football (soccer), bicycle riding and swimming are all appropriate activities.
  • Plan ahead: Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise
  • Provide a safe environment: Make sure your child's clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  • Provide active toys: Young children especially need easy access to balls, skipping ropes, and other active toys
  • Be a model for your child: Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves
  • Play with your child: Help her learn a new sport
  • Turn off the TV: Limit television watching and computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
  • Make time for exercise: Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  • Work around the weather: In Kerala the weather, rains and heat, can interfere with your exercise schedules. Try to find practical alternatives if that happens.
  • Do not overdo it: When your child is ready to start remember to tell her to listen to your body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs , your child's weight drops below and average acceptable level, or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your pediatrician.

Remember: there is a powerful relationship between childhood obesity and lifelong weight and related medical problems.

Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early on life. It is not too late to start. Ask your pediatrician about tools for healthy living today.