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Physical Health|02 May 2022

Sedentary Lifestyle – An impending trouble for your kids

Written by Dr Shubhi Aggarwal
MBBS and a Fellowship in Diabetes Mellitus associated with Whizzcure Healthcare.

Sedentary lifestyle is one which includes activities such as sitting or lying down with limited or no physical activity. The effect of pandemic over these 2 years has led to certain fallouts in terms of medical, economical and social terms. Lack of social interaction has led to increased irritability, lethargy, and isolated behavior in the children. This in turn has caused a significant increase in the incidence of social anxiety, psychological therapies in the children which are worrisome for the parents. Higher trends of screen time have fascinated the kids to an extent that low expenditure activities are becoming their daily ritual. To add to our concern, the portability of all these screen based devices has made the lives of the parents miserable because the most effective defense mechanism for children in a social gathering is watching or playing on their devices.

Limiting their screen time is not enough. You must look at both the qualitative as well as the quantitative aspects. You check the number of hours our children are using the screen but you forget one of the most important things: “what are they watching?” For instance, if your children are watching a series, what message are they receiving from it? Is it something that will add onto their academics, personality, physical health or their mental health?  Parents contribute a lot towards the lifestyle of their children as children are more likely to mimic their parents. As a parent, you should set an example for them by making healthy choices such as increased physical activity, healthy diet, limiting your screen time, etc.  Engaging them in outdoor sports such as badminton, football, Basketball (anything which holds their interest) is a great way of channeling their energy towards their wellbeing.

As far as the screens are concerned, each one of us have got ample amount of resources present on the internet that have made physical activity fun rather than just a duty. Some forms of exercise such as zumba (a dance form which involves cardio workout and engages you in its playfulness) and aerobics (a form of exercise that improves every element of fitness whether it is cardio, strength training or stretching) which children seem to love. Not to underestimate the power of yoga and breathing exercises here which are must dos after COVID. They have seen to combat the increasing incidence of breathing disorders in children. Physical activity not only improves your physical health but it has an amazing effect on your mental health as well. It allows your children to be more emotionally stable, calm, happier and gives them the ability to battle some of the common mental health disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, etc. 

Some parents seem to burden their children with statements such as “You won’t be good looking if you’re fat, so exercise regularly” or how good they would look if they’ll lose some weight. Always remember that a child is very fragile and these statements can traumatize them for a very long time which is going to be very difficult to recover from. Promoting physical activity in order to keep them disease-free is one thing but doing this in order to fulfil the ideal societal standards is not healthy for their development. Maintaining physical health is very important but not at the cost of your children’s mental health. So, next time when you see your child getting all comfy in the blanket watching TV, move with them, have a talk with them, dance with them, spend time with them because their health lies within your hands. 

References:

  • Tracie A. Barnett, PhD, Chair, Aaron S. Kelly, PhD, FAHA, Deborah Rohm Young, PhD, FAHA, Cynthia K. Perry, PhD, FNP-BC, FAHA, Charlotte A. Pratt, PhD, MS, RD, FAHA, Nicholas M. Edwards, MD, MPH, Goutham Rao, MD, FAHA, Miriam B. Vos, MD, MSPH and On behalf of the American Heart Association Obesity Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; and Stroke Council
  • Bitsko RH, Claussen AH, Lichtstein J, Black LJ, Everett Jones S, Danielson MD, Hoenig JM, Davis Jack SP, Brody DJ, Gyawali S, Maenner MM, Warner M, Holland KM, Perou R, Crosby AE, Blumberg SJ, Avenevoli S, Kaminski JW, Ghandour RM. Surveillance of Children’s Mental Health – United States, 2013 – 2019 MMWR, , 2022 / 71(Suppl-2);1–42.
  • https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352281874_SEDENTARY_LIFESTYLE_AND_ITS_IMPACT_ON_SCHOOL_GOING_ADOLESCENTS’_HEALTH_IN_CHENNAI
  • http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/2/189.full

The views expressed are that of the expert alone.