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Fitness…. Exercise…. Health….??? All these Big words for toddlers??? Yes, dear mommy, health is a very important aspect at this early age of your child. The habits learned as a child are often carried through to adulthood. Health is a lifelong gift we can give to our child.
A recent survey of more than 1,00,000 kids show:
· 40% of kids don’t have healthy BMI.
· 40% of the kids don’t have required endurance levels.
· Girls have better BMI than boys.
· In terms of fitness and BMI, non-metros score better than metros.
Is it alarming time for us? We, being the parents of this future generation, have to focus on our kid’s health and well being. We need to take a serious call at our kid’s sports and other physical activities.
As our kids get older, it becomes challenging for kids to get enough time for fitness activity. Increasing demands of schools, busy working families and lack of active role models (parents are the first role models of any child), etc are the basic reasons for less focus on fitness. Sometimes parents don’t feel comfortable letting them roam freely in the neighborhood as they did years ago. Despite these barriers, you can instill the love of fitness and help your child adjust their daily routine accordingly. The benefits of focusing on fitness at the early age:
· Exercise helps kids achieve and maintain a healthy body and appropriate weight.
· Kids who exercise are more likely to maintain the exercise routine as an adult.
· It improves sleeping pattern of a child.
· Regular physical activity helps them build and maintain strong and healthy muscles, bones and joints.
· Exercise plays an important role in interpersonal skills development.
· Exercise makes a child more disciplined.
· Kids who exercise have a better self images and greater self esteem.
· Regular physical activity promotes health and tends to prevent or delay many chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, etc.
· Active child reports fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Age appropriate activities
Preschoolers and toddlers have a very flexible body. Toddlers don’t require a gym or a proper sport set up to learn fitness. They master almost all required basic movements of all the sports while playing in the playground but they are too young for most organized sports. This unstructured free play helps develop important motor skills required for their growth. Instead of playing or mastering a sport, the focus should be on fun and fundamental skills. It is important to find an activity of your kid’s interest. Activities like:
· Running: This is the best exercise for any kid irrespective of age. Let them run, they enjoy it. The more they run, the more physically fit they will be. They will feel more hungry, eat properly, speed of doing other work will increase, get tired and will have a nice sleep at night. What more a mommy wants?
· Tumbling: Tumbling is considered as a great confidence building exercise for young kids. It gives flexibility and strength to the body. It helps build core muscles and arms and legs muscles. The kid learns to control his body to the utmost degree. Bending, tucking and twisting are involved to perform tumbling. The kid becomes more courageous and determined.
· Gymnastics: gymnastics is one of the most comprehensive lifestyle exercises which incorporate strength, flexibility, speed, balance, coordination, discipline and power. So it helps for the overall development of the child. It helps kids become physically active and stay fit and healthy. It develops social skills like listening, following directions, being quiet, commitment, concentration and respecting others.
· Stretching: It gives flexibility to the body. It helps prevent injuries (like muscle tears and pulls), improves athletic performance of your child (including toddlers) and encourages a healthful lifestyle since early age. it is helpful for kids to build on their natural flexibility, before they lose some of their suppleness during their teens. It is important to monitor the kids while stretching as a wrong way of doing it might cause injuries.
· Jumping: Jumping is a great exercise for all ages including toddlers. It could be jumping on a trampoline or a skipping rope; kids enjoy both. It improves cardio fitness, speed, timing, coordination, balance and rhythm. It is a creative sport and easy to learn.
· Ball Games: Playing with a ball is often overlooked as a boy activity but it is equally important for all children of all ages. It not only prepares a child for sports and extracurricular activities at school but also helps develop bilateral skills, hand-eye coordination, timing, sequencing, motor planning and attention. Ball games can include throwing and catching, dribbling, kicking and aiming for a target.
· Cycling: toddlers love their tricycle. When my son was 2 years, he always used to be on his tricycle. It has all health benefits for kids.
· Swimming: Swimming is usually not advisable for a toddler, but you can go for a small water pool activity at home. The idea is to make the baby comfortable with water and let him play and enjoy.
· Dance: Dance for toddlers is a fun way of fitness. You can play their favorite movie number or just a rhyme. Dance at this age is mostly jumping and moving their body up and down. But they love it.
· Meditation and Yoga: Kids’ yoga classes are a fun way to increase their flexibility. Meditation, not in its actual sense, but you can make them sit with closed eyes and breathe deeply. It increases their focus and concentration.
How to motivate toddlers?
1. You can make the activity easy by giving them plenty of opportunity like taking them to playgrounds and other active spots.
2. You must choose the right activity as per your kid’s age otherwise he may get bored or feel frustrated.
3. While reaping the benefits of fitness, the focus should be fun at this age. Kids want to do more of the activity if they enjoy it. Kids avoid it if they don’t enjoy.
The fitness regime has manifold benefits for these kids, not only the physical ones, it also helps in developing cognitive skills of your child. When kids play with each other, it develops their social skills too. They learn to appreciate others, accept failure and try to improve. When fitness becomes daily routine for them, it improves their abilities and help them feel accomplished, especially when their effort is noticed and praised. These feel good factors often make the kid continue the activity and try his hand on others too. Your positive attitude will help your toddler who is reluctant to exercise. So be a good role model for your toddler as kids follow the lead of their parents. If they see their parents taking care of their body through exercise, they will be motivated to follow in their footsteps.
So mommy, what are you waiting for? Be active yourself and support your toddler’s interest. If you start this at early age, they’ll come to regard activity as a family fun and it becomes a family’s everyday routine.