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Help your baby get active

Help your baby get active

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The increasing epidemic of childhood obesity and its health implications are of high concern worldwide. Obesity makes the children susceptible to the risk of a number of degenerative and developmental disorders.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

It’s time for parents to act.

The introduction of television, video games, online games and other games that engage the mind but not the body to a larger extent have shown a trend to gain the fancy of children at a much higher rate than the outdoor or indoor activities that include physical movements.

Parents must take care to plan some time out exclusively for some sort of an active physical exercise so as to break this cycle of sedentary living. Every baby, till five years of age as well as the school-going should engage in daily physical activity that promotes health-related fitness and movement skills.

The grave concern over childhood obesity has laid down the attention to the introduction and importance of physical activity from the much early stage in life. The objective is to ensure healthy eating and healthy lifestyle practices to be adopted for a healthy life.

The benefits of physical activity for babies.

Physical activity has many health benefits. Adopting a physically active lifestyle early in life increases the likelihood that babies develop their motor skill much faster. Walking and running seem to emerge whereas jumping, hopping, galloping, sliding, catching, throwing, bouncing, kicking, and striking may require more practice and instruction.

Physical benefits: According to WHO, appropriate physical activity helps babies to develop the following:

  • A healthy musculoskeletal system (i.e. bones, muscles and joints)
  • A healthy cardiovascular system (i.e. heart and lungs)
  • Neuromuscular awareness (i.e. coordination and movement control)
  • Healthy body weight and its maintenance

Psychological benefits: WHO suggests that the association of physical activity with psychological benefits in babies help improve their control over symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also, physical activity is an important component of early brain development and learning among babies.

Cognitive development: Physical activity helps in cognitive development of a child. An active lifestyle provides your baby with opportunities for planning and experimentation with new skills and activities and also enhances learning by trial and error. Babies who have opportunities to be active are able to focus their attention on self-directed tasks that makes them self motivated. Such babies develop cooperative friendships to overcome obstacles, and as a result, they develop better social skills and relationships with their peers.

Social development: Appropriate physical activity also assists in the social development of children by providing opportunities for self-expression, building self-confidence, social interaction and integration.

Reduces stress: Exercises also help reduce the stress level of the children and enhance sound sleep in them, which is extremely important for proper growth and development of the child

Prevents obesity: Most of all physical activity keeps the children away from obesity and prevents them from being exposed to the risk of potential dangers of obesity manifested as degenerative diseases.

An Active lifestyle should be Adopted.

Physical activity should not only be limited to outside play as the time spent in the garden or play grounds may be limited and subject to weather. Active physical play should be introduced both outdoors and indoors.

Vacant areas can be identified both indoors and outdoors that are safe and uncluttered so as to allow your baby freedom to be physically active. In the indoor space, your little one needs obstacle free play areas to ensure safe opportunities to crawl, walk or move around. Provide the appropriate toys and games to encourage your baby engage in activities that strengthen her motor skills.

Plan and provide daily outdoor activities for young children, unless weather restricts you from moving out.

Tips for your baby’s active life.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education, USA, has framed certain guidelines for enhancing the physical activity in babies reduce the potential risks. These guidelines have been accepted widely for babies of all age groups.

For babies up to 1 year old:

  • They should interact with parents and/or caregivers in daily physical activities that are dedicated to promoting the exploration of their environment
  • They should be placed in safe settings that facilitate physical activity and do not restrict movement for prolonged periods of time
  • Their physical activities should promote the development of movement skills
  • They should have an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities
  • Individuals responsible for the well-being of your baby should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the infant’s movement skills

For babies between 1-3 years:

  • They should accumulate at least 30 minutes daily of structured physical activity
  • They should engage in at least 60 minutes and up to several hours per day of daily, unstructured physical activity and should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping
  • They should develop movement skills that are building blocks for more complex movement tasks
  • They should have indoor and outdoor areas that meet or exceed recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.
  • Individuals responsible for the well-being of your baby should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the toddler’s movement skills.

Don’t let your baby be inactive!

Activities like watching television or playing computer or video games do not promote any sort of physical activity and increase the incidence of developing sedentary lifestyle habits. These activities may, though, make up a significant part of your baby’s day. They should be therefore discouraged.

The AAP recommends the following guidelines for television viewing for babies:

For babies below 2 years: Television viewing is discouraged for babies younger than 2 years. Instead, interactive activities that stimulate brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together should be encouraged.

For babies above 2 years: For babies 2 and older, total entertainment media time (television, videotapes, and videogames) should be limited to not more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming daily.

Being physically active helps in your baby’s development in more ways than one. It is, therefore, very important for all parents and caregivers to be watchful at all times with your baby. They should be encouraged to live an active lifestyle. However, you should be cautious about the risks and never leave them unattended in any event of crying or injury.

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