We often talk about fitness in adults. This piece is simply to make sure that our children are not left behind in the discussion of health. I have read and written a lot of articles on fat loss, muscle gain, figured out ways to survive a pandemic; even mentioned about different styles of achieving our fitness goals, but I admit that almost every article I wrote was written keeping on the mind an adult figure. And I feel sorry that I didn’t think of this earlier.
Are the ways of taking care of children-health any different than those of the adults? If yes, how?
First of all, children are usually playful enough to be able to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. And that makes a remarkable difference to their health compared to adults. However, there are a lot of factors that still seem to affect the pattern:
Proper nutrition is important in all stages of life. But one thing that makes a major difference between children and adults is that children are at their primary growing stage where they grow every single day physically and mentally unlike adults who are at their maintenance phase. This is the reason why pregnant and lactating women are advised to take extra care of their nutritional requirements.
The main challenge with children is to pack them with nutrition and not just food. The modern options for food are mostly processed which should be a major concern for parents and guardians. Fresh foods, freshly and properly cooked foods and balanced/correct nutrition should be a priority when it comes to children, no second thoughts about it, unlike adults.
The rules for designing their meal platter are the same. The trouble is to master the kitchen skills in order to compete with the unwholesome or unhealthy opponents in the market as the children would not really listen to anybody but their taste buds!
The Modern Lifestyle
Like I said earlier, children are playful enough which makes them physically active already. But the digital era has taken its toll on everyone, even children! No doubt technology has helped us to be better as a species in a lot of ways but it has brought, along with it, its negative impacts on the way we spend our time. Computers & screens and long hours of sitting are now an unavoidable part of everybody’s life, be it adults or children. There are no two-ways about it. And the pandemic we are going through has made contributions of its own. With the growth of online opportunities, we are falling farther behind our origin as the super active “food gatherers”.
The outcome of such a situation is that this has made us rethink about the need of an extra physical activity for our children which also makes us the question- What kind of extra physical activity we should really get them into?
Physical Activities For Children
I always emphasize on choosing an activity that one would love to carry and enjoy themselves while doing it. Amongst children, it’s playtime undoubtedly. Encouraging children to engage themselves in activities that would challenge their physical competence like fun-games that involves running and jumping is probably the best thing that one can do at the simplest level. Thus, keeping in mind everything I discussed above, the best option for children according to me when we think of extra activity is engaging them in Sports.
Sports: The Health-Boon For Children
You see in the growing stage, children grow not just by physique but also by intellect. Hence, choosing suitable activities to nurture them both ways is very important. “Sports” got it all, no matter which one you choose. A sport activity would challenge not only their physical but their mental competence as well. It teaches virtues that you would not really get to learn elsewhere, which is only a plus that helps in the long run. Added to it, it’s all play!
Strength/Resistance Training For Children
This is something I often come across. “Is Strength/resistance training good for children below 18 years”? Most of them refer to training in the gym by this. For you to have the answer, you need to understand the difference between strength/resistance training and aesthetic hypertrophy training, the latter commonly known as Bodybuilding. “Strength” is a basic requirement for every individual at every age, which only comes from training with resistance intentionally or unintentionally. Hypertrophy training is a more focused training that requires training for strength with precision in order to be achieved but training for strength does not necessarily mean bodybuilding! As I said, Strength is a necessity that cannot be ignored and if the consequences involve hypertrophy of the muscles, there is no harm in it. But, focusing on Hypertrophy alone at this early stage may not be a smart choice for many reasons!
The writer is a certified fitness expert. Having worked with brands like Talwalkers and Golds Gym, at present he is the Strength and Conditioning Coach & Nutrition Consultant of Guwahati City Football Club.