Get-off-the-couch activities for your child (3–5 years)

Physical activity in any form is more important than no activity. Getting your child to move more is a good way to introduce fitness in her life. How do you do that?

By Lakshmi

Get-off-the-couch activities for your child (3–5 years)

"Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults" - Abraham Lincoln

What makes fitness an overrated subject? Why are issues related to fitness blown out of proportion so much so that they seem overwhelming? Considering fitness as an element in isolation is the beginning of the problem. Giving larger than life importance to the way fitness can be approached is lending a sense of apprehension to the whole issue.

Do you fret about your child’s fitness level? Do you think getting him to be fit is out of reach? You’re probably looking at fitness in isolation. Incorporate changes into his daily routine for long-term fitness. Here are five methods which can be deployed into the day-to-day practices of your child to enhance his wellness quotient gradually.

Sitting down to eat

Slouching on the couch is the norm for everyone today, and can children be far behind? With the rise in postural defects and spinal issues, it’s time we say goodbye to the couches and embrace the floor. Make it a golden rule for your child to sit on the floor with his legs crossed.

Encourage your child to practise this simple posture by making it habit to sit on the floor during mealtimes. In fact, this practise could be followed by the entire family for better spine health and improved digestion. Sitting on the floor to eat also prevents overeating because the stomach can hold only so much. With practice, your child will be able to get up without support, giving him better balance.

Incentive: While starting the practice, cook her favourite dish the day after she sits cross-legged to encourage her to start following the habit diligently.

Sitting down while watch TV/using the tab

When your child requests for television or tab time, ask him to sit on his heels in a kneeling position. This posture improves blood circulation, aids digestion and prevents constipation. It also strengthens the knees.

Incentive: A 30-minute television time gets an extension of 15 minutes on weekends if she sits in this posture for as long as she can.

Climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator

It is common practice these days for children to run out of the car and into the elevator. Teach your child to take the stairs for as many floors as possible. Climbing up is a good cardio workout and starting your child on this at an early age will do his heart good. It is also a wonderful way to strengthen core muscles, giving your child the flexibility and energy to carry on with his tasks with ease. For your child is very young, hold her hand for support while she climbs up.

Incentive: For every floor your child climbs, give her a bonus point. Reward twenty bonus points with a book or toy.

Increase outdoor playtime

It has become a rarity to see children playing outdoors these days due to lack of space and fear of traffic. Make it a point that your child gets his daily quota of a minimum of 2 hours of play outdoors. If you are constrained for space in your apartment, take him to a park or the beach where he can run around and play. Playing outdoors burns calories, improves muscle strength and coordination, and increases lung capacity. It also boosts the child’s self-confidence. This is also the best way to get him off the gadget.

Incentive: Young children love nothing better than to spend time with their parents. So, schedule time each week to play with your child so you get to spend time with him and understand him better.

Make chores fun

Wondering what else you can do to make your child active at home? Think chores. Grow a couple of plants on your balcony and get her to water them every day. Entrust her with tasks like clearing up after a meal, putting cushions back in place, putting away newspapers and books in designated places and filling up small bottles of water. These will keep her engaged and give her a sense of responsibility as well.

Incentive: Introduce points for some tasks and allow her extra playtime as reward in the weekend if she wins.

Be a role model by practising these activities yourself first. The more you get moving as a family, the better for your child’s health.

With inputs from Lakshmi, yoga practitioner and holistic fitness specialist.