Importance of Physical Activity
In today’s digital age, kids (and adults, too) are likely to spend their free time glued to screens instead of engaging in outdoor play and activities. This results in a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to weight gain and a slew of health problems in later life. In fact, having insufficient physical activity has been listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the major risks resulting in deaths worldwide.
☑ For a Healthier Body
Exercising is effective in weight control as it helps to burn off excess calories consumed and prevent accumulation of fats in the body. It is important to maintain a healthy body weight to reduce the risk of developing various health problems that include type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You may refer to this BMI calculator to check if you or your child is within the healthy weight range.
Staying active also helps to increase bone density and develops your endurance, strength and flexibility. These are aspects that can drastically reduce the risk of physical injuries, especially when one gets older.
☑ To Promote Cognitive Development
Exercising increases blood supply to different parts of the brain, supplying them with oxygen and nutrients. This helps to develop and enhance various cognitive functions such as memory and learning, important for developing children.
☑ For Emotional Well-being
You tend to feel better after some form of exercise as it stimulates the release of chemicals in the body such as endorphins and serotonin, which can boost your mood and make you feel more relaxed. Thus, exercise can serve as an outlet for everyday stress for both children and adults.
In addition, weight gain as a result of having an unhealthy lifestyle can have repercussions on a child’s mental well-being. Such children are more likely to be teased by peers and suffer from low self-esteem, which are contributors to social anxiety and depression. This is especially so during the puberty period when they become more self-conscious about the way they look.
Ways to Stay Active with your Child
Staying active is a lifestyle that should be inculcated from young. It is recommended that children try to clock in at least an hour of physical activity everyday. Active parents can act as role models and influence their children to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Engaging in physical activities together with your child not only creates quality parent-child bonding sessions, it also creates opportunities for him or her to develop healthy living habits that will stay for a lifetime.
Being active does not always have to involve intense and vigorous forms of workouts. Here are some fun and easy ways to help you and your child cultivate a more active lifestyle in order to stay fit and healthy.
1.Explore and be Adventurous
Make use of the upcoming June school holidays to keep hearts pumping by going on some outdoor adventures. Hikes and walks expose your child to the flora and fauna nature has to offer, which can instill a sense of curiosity and appreciation of our natural environment in him or her. You can explore and enjoy the lush greenery at any of the many family-friendly parks and nature reserves right here in our Garden City.
(Labrador Nature Reserve)
(Mount Faber Park)
On days when you and your child need a respite from Singapore’s heat, head to and immerse yourselves in a museum! Such experiences can fuel a child’s interest in the arts and sciences, as well as in Singapore’s history and culture. Exploring a museum typically involves hours of walking and being on one’s feet, which is a far more productive and healthier way to spend your time than watching television programs and playing video games at home.
(Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum)
2.Pick Up a New Sport/Activity with your Child
Trying out and learning new things is a good way to prevent our lives from getting too stagnant and boring. You can pick a new sport or activity that the whole family can learn and engage in on a regular basis. This will provide family-bonding opportunities while keeping everyone fit and active. Swimming, ice skating and bowling are some activities you can consider. For more adventurous families, there are various dance and martial arts courses to sign up for and attend together. For all you know, you or your child may even discover some newfound talent and passion!
3.Get your Child Involved in Household Chores
Consider letting your child help out with household chores as a way to keep heart rates up. Besides instilling a sense of responsibility, this also allows your child to gain important life skills and be more independent. Some suitable chores for your child can be cleaning and tidying up his or her bedroom and helping to sweep the floor. Do remember to encourage your child and show your appreciation for his or her contribution for the family!
Having your child accompany you on your rounds of grocery shopping is also another way to raise activity levels and burn some calories with all the walking and basket-carrying/trolley-pushing. At the same time, you can also make use of these opportunities to expose them to various types of foods and teach them about nutrition and how to make healthier food choices.
4.Replace Movie Nights with Workout Sessions
Instead of having movie nights/spending the evening watching television shows, organise family fitness sessions instead! Get changed into active wear and roll out some yoga mats in the living room. Start playing a workout video on the television screen and have the family move along to it, all in the comfort of your own home. (Note: Stay hydrated and do not forget to warm up and cool down for each workout.)
Here are some workout videos to get you started-
You can also be creative and create customised routines for the family. Incorporating a competitive element (eg. seeing who can hold a plank for the longest time) is also a good idea to keep things fun and interesting.
We all have the responsibility to take good care of our bodies and staying physically active (along with a balanced diet) is vital in keeping our bodies healthy. By increasing our quality of life, it enables us to achieve and look forward to the greater things in life. It is not too late to make a change and start living a healthier lifestyle with your child.
Sources: [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
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