Here’s How to Deal with Post-Lockdown Obesity in Children
In the next 20 years, your children would still be in early adulthood but India could be on the edge of a crisis led by obesity. Yes, this is the indication by the San Francisco based Public Library of Science which underlines that the number of obese Indians will triple while one in four of them would be obese by 2040.
While this is a worrying trend, the pandemic has worsened it by leading to an increase in a sedentary lifestyle. However, as parents you can work towards ensuring your child’s healthy future by cutting down on their screen time and replacing it with an easy-peasy free-hand exercise session.
Before getting started, let’s understand the context behind prioritising fitness for your child and the role the prevailing pandemic has played on affecting children’s physical health.
BMI and IQ
An epidemiological study conducted at the Brown University found that obesity hinders cognitive ability in children. Scientists studied children aged between five and eight and saw that overweight children had lower scores for both perpetual reasoning and working memory compared to those children who had an ideal Body Mass Index.
Experts suggest that early life adiposity could hinder neurodevelopment and the regulation of hormones that are necessary for cognitive prowess. Simple workouts promote hormonal regulation and blood circulation to the cognitive regions in the brain.
The Role of Lockdown
Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found concrete evidence that pointed to a direct correlation between physical passivity during the pandemic induced confinement and increased child obesity cases. Lack of exercise, over-sleeping and overeating has led to arise in the numbers of child obesity cases.
Eating, Exercising and Sport
Indian parents often mistake being lean with malnourishment. Although children have very strong metabolisms, overfeeding can have a detrimental effect on their health in the long run. If your child needs a lot of encouragement to stay active or engage in sports, there is a good chance that their metabolism has become sluggish. Try balancing the diet with smaller portions of nutritious foods than large servings.
A good diet has to be complimented with regular physical workout as that promotes strong metabolism, strengths body and mind, and instils a discipline towards being fit in the long run. To achieve this, some effective and fun workouts for children can be incorporated into children’s daily routine without much effort and money.
Fun and Effective Workouts for Children
Light cardio and aerobics are simple and practical workout techniques that will work even in small spaces like your balcony. Exercises such as skipping, jumping jacks, stair training are perfect to get the oxygen flowing to the muscles which in turn burns fat. These are fun-to-do workouts which the children won’t take like a daunting task.
Isometric workout is another option for staying lean and strong. Keeping a watch on burning fat alone will not solve the problem but a healthy child needs strong bones and joints too. This is why it is a suitable form of exercise as it strengthens muscles and burns fat without taking a toll on the joints. A simple isometric workout is the ‘plank hold’. Just have your kid lie on the ground and then prop themselves up on their forearms and toes. Get them to hold this position steady while clenching the butts and abs for as long as they can. Squats are also popular in this form of exercise. Isometric exercises are highly recommended for preventing injuries.
Plyometrics (jump training) is another popular workout technique which strengthens muscles and burns fat on the basis of holding a position under tension. This does not require use of any additional weight which makes it perfect for children. Burpee is a simple plyometric exercise your kids will love! Just make sure they do it on an empty stomach. Athletes especially, martial arts, sprinters and high jumpers are recommended this form of exercise to improve performance.
Finally, Yoga and Pranayama are holistic ways of giving your children a dose of physical workout with a boost of positive mental energy. Children are equally vulnerable to stress and abdominal breathing done during yoga and pranayama is a natural antidote for that. Shavashana, Setubandhasana, Bidalasana are fun and easy yoga poses that you can do with your kids.
Make sure to ingrain the idea of staying active in your children early on. This will contribute towards making them healthier, confident and most importantly boost their immunity for a long and healthy life.
(Author Raspreet Sidhu is Head of Sports at Shiv Nadar School and Captain of the Indian Women’s Basketball team.)