Gone are the days when kids used to run down in the evening to play some fun games with friends like catch and cook, lock and key, cricket etc. Todayâ€™s generation kids also play but not physically. They are hooked on to the tab, ipad, computer etc. and the only part of their body which gets worked out is their fingers. So when do they get their share of physical activity and how would their fitness levels improve? This is the also the exact reason why childhood obesity is so very prevalent everywhere and these kids grow up to be obese, lethargic and sedentary teenagers who have more chances of developing diabetes, heart issues, arthritis and so on.
It is very important to inculcate the habit of exercise or being active in kids so that they continue it throughout their life. Active children grow up to be active adults who realize the importance of physical fitness even in their most busy schedule. When you tell teenagers to exercise they may feel it as such a burden and something that they are being forced to do. Tell them by exercise you do not mean something boring and monotonous. It could be anything that they like and enjoy. All they need to do is remove 1 hour from their hectic college or work schedule at least 4-5 times/week and invest that time in some activity of their choice. They can choose from:
- Aerobic exercises: your heart is a muscle which enjoys a good workout. Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, running, cycling, swimming, dance, aerobics etc strengthen your heart and improve its ability to pump more oxygen to all the parts. This also makes you less prone to heart problems in your later life. You can also choose any sport like basketball, tennis, football, volleyball, skating etc. make sure your heart rate increases for 20 minutes or more atleast 3 times/week to benefit your body.
- Strength training: apart from the heart, other muscles also need to be worked out so that they become strong and support your joints and prevent injuries. You can opt for a gym membership or use free weights at home, therabands, resistance tubing or your own body weight like squats, lunges, push ups etc. Working out the entire body 2 -3days a week is ideal but make sure you do this with help of a coach or professional trainer. Avoid lifting very heavy weights as it can cause injury and do not expect to get bulky muscles as such an early age. Focus more on strength.
- Other activities: exercise may not necessarily mean you to follow a structured agenda. It could also mean adopting an active lifestyle like walking back from school/college to home, taking the stairs rather than the lift, walk the dog, clean up the house, help parents in household chores, going for treks, planning a cycling race with friends etc. this will not only make you fit but also more alert and active. Even a hobby like skating, dancing, hula-hoop etc can be a good form of exercise.
- Always wear a comfortable gear and shoes while exercising.
- Eat a small meal like egg sandwich/ idli/ poha/ sprouts salad etc. 1-2 hours prior any activity
- Carry a bottle of water with you while exercising and keep sipping in between to prevent dehydration.
- Do not over exercise. Sometimes teenagers with the desire to lose weight may tend to over workout which can cause injury or harm their body.
- When you start any new activity or sport try doing it under the supervision of a trainer.
- Do not exercise immediately after any meals to avoid digestion issues or late at night as it can disrupt your sleep patterns.
- If you are a beginner, try keeping exercise sessions small like 20-30 minutes with low intensity and slowly increase time and intensity as your body gets accustomed to it.
How will exercise benefit teenagers?
- Helps you lose the baby fat, tone up and gives you a better self image by maintaining a healthy weight.
- Releases happy hormones called endorphins which reduce stress level, lower heart rate and makes them relaxed and calm helping you cope up with study pressures.
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes, blood pressure and heart problems which is becoming extremely common in teens.
- Prevents risk of osteoporosis and back problems in the future as weight bearing exercises like squats, jumping, weight lifting etc increase bone mass.
- Helps to increase lean muscle mass which protects the bones and joints preventing injuries and fractures. This also defines the body shape and gives you that figure/physique you have only dreamt about.
- Helps improve self confidence and social integration skills helping them deal with competition in all spheres of life.
- Boosts blood circulation which helps improves nutrient delivery to the skin removing toxins and revitalizing the skin giving you a glowing, acne free complexion.
- Increases stamina and energy levels which help you study well, concentrate better and improve performance.
- Kick starts the immune system protecting you from common cold, cough and viral infections.
- Reduces chances of depression and increases the blood flow with oxygen and nutrients to brain thereby improving brain power.
- Active teens have lesser chances of developing cognitive problems like Alzheimerâ€™s , Parkinsonâ€™s in their later years.
How to get going?
- Warm up: start with 5-6 minutes of basic warm up exercises like marching, jogging, neck,
- Main exercise: give this part of your regime atleast 30-40 minutes. You can opt for any
- Cool down: 10 minutes of cool is good enough. Do not stop at once. Slowly reduce the hand and leg movements, stretching. exercises like walking, skipping, swimming, dancing or playing any sport. Donâ€™t forget to focus on your core which includes the stomach and back muscles to prevent back issues later.intensity of your activity, stretch and breathe.
Always remember exercise is just 30% whereas 70% is diet. So support your exercise efforts with a good healthy diet including fruits, nuts, salads, whole grains, coconut water etc. Give your body enough rest both mentally and physically. Try to involve family members as well like planning a hiking trip with them, playing cricket, swimming on a hot Sunday afternoon etc. We all are born young but how we perish depends on us. Make your youth a part of your personality forever by following a healthy and active lifestyle.