Early Intervention of a Healthy Lifestyle
An important step to save the health and wellbeing of our children
Post by DR. TAIZEENA KHAN on Friday, November 25, 2022
WHO (World Health Organization)– Defines health as complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.At an early stage children not only need love and care, but alsoa proper road map for a healthy life style. This road map should be devised by keeping in mind all the parameters of health and wellness.It should not only focus on physical and mental health of our children but also on the social aspects of it. To achieve this goal we need to enhance the skills of parents. The health and wellness plan from the birth of a child will decide the future of our coming generations. In recent years of my clinical practice as a physiotherapist, I have noticed more youngsters coming to me with musculoskeletal disorders.This abrupt rise of my younger generation patients, their lack of physical activity, unnecessary stress and lack of social set up that could provide them with a platform to practice a healthy lifestyle at an early stage urged me to choose this topic today.
In recent years children as young as 12- 18 years have been coming to me with musculoskeletal disorders. While consulting/counselling these youngsters I have come to the conclusion that there is not only the lack of physical activities but also a lot of avoidable stress leading to unhealthy choice of life style in this age group these days. To a large extent I believe that technology has also played a great role in this. No doubt that technology has become an integral component of our daily lives. Technology has to a great extent made our lives easier but at the same time it has done that at the cost of our physical, mental and our social lives .This all begins when we as a parent make a choice of offering a smart phone to our 6months old, so that we can feed the child. Children are easily attracted to new toys and smart phone with so many features is no doubt the best form of toy for them. It has a cartoon that speaks to them anytime they hit the button. The best fictional stories they could ever watch and everything they could get their hands on. Meanwhile, we don’t realize the cost of bringing this technology to them at this early stage of their life. We happily embrace making our child technology dependent too early, as it is not only saving us time in this fast moving world but we also think that we are making our child happy.
Physical inactivity in children is becoming a growing problem day by day and has been considered as epidemic according to research. WHO (World health organization) reports that about 70%of the boys and up to 88% of the girls under the age 10 don’t get the physical activity they need for their age. Think back of the times when we were growing up as kids. How did we spend our time in school as well as home? There were no computers, no smart phones, almost no technology. There wasa good balance between our books, TV time and playing games. We were encouraged to go out and play. We had more real friends than social media friends whom we could talk and discuss our stress with. We also used to spend a lot of time in our vacation with our extended family members, especially with our grandparents. We used to listen to their stories, the folk stories, their real life experiences etc. I remember going on for long walks with my grandfather and on the way bothering him with lots of inquisitive questions about the trees, the birds, or whatever we saw on our way. This helped me appreciate nature, love animals and observe things keenly. But times have changed. Children today are hardly seen playing after school or have a good social life. Pressure from parents to perform better in academics, more and more access to technology and lack of Physical activity is leading to overall physical, mental and social problems in their lives.
This sedentary lifestyle arising due to various problems discussed above is the leading cause of childhood obesity, hypertension, cardiac problems juvenile diabetes, anxiety, aggression, depression and other behavioral changes and musculoskeletal disorders in children. Delayed growth and development in infants and toddlers is also seen due to changed patterns of raising our children and more and more technology taking over our burdens. In recent years more and more infants and toddlers are facing delayed speech and learning disabilities. Investing time and efforts in early childhood development starting from infancy is pertinent to stop this epidemic and give our children a best life. Plan a proper balanced healthy lifestyle program for your Child’s health and wellness.
Here are some tips to lay a foundation to the health and wellbeing of our children whose benefits last a lifetime.
- Do not introduce technology to your children at a very early age.
- Instead introduce games which stimulate their brains, e.g. educational and learning toys such as building blocks, numbers, shapes, colors etc.
- Spend more and more time with them while they are still in their infancy. Read a story book for them, this encourages them to read and write.
- Feed them while they are observing nature and not offering them a smart phone, this helps them enjoy their food and develop their taste buds better.
- Encourage them to feed themselves as soon as you think they are ready for it.
- Encourage them to do small independent activities e.g. feeding themselves, combing, brushing, tying shoe laces, etc.This will not only help them stay physically fit but also independent.
- Introducing a healthy balanced diet plan and avoiding junk food is imperative.
- Regularize the feeding and sleeping time.
- Encourage going to bed early and do not give them access to technology at bed time.
- Limit the technology, TV and video game time, e.g.you can allow technology time which includes any form of technology only 1-2 hours a day.
- Encourage them to spend more time playing games with friends, extended family members, especially grandparents.
- You can also select a day to play with your kids e.g. weekends, this will help you bond with your kids and also help you and your kids stay physically fit.
- Encourage them to spend more time playing outdoors.
- Encourage them to spend time with grandparents, let them listen to their real life experiences and learn from them, encourage physical activity as much as possible.
- Bond with your kids. Listen to them with open mind and heart. Do not put pressure on them to achieve academic or any other goals in life, instead encourage them to do well in life by giving them all the support they need.
- Last but not the least, be a practical example for your own kids. Practice a healthy life style and they will follow you.
(Author is a physiotherapist. She has done BPT (Bangalore India), PGDMS (London), MBA (USA). MIAP (Member India Association of Physiotherapists). Fellowship in Geriatric Rehabilitation, Fellowship in Paediatric Rehabilitation, Certified women's health exercise expert)