Srinagar: When the pandemic first shuttered schools and moved classes online, fifteen-year-old Asim (name-changed) was home nearly every day and found himself continuously snacking.
“Initially, he went to play cricket with his friends every Saturday and Sunday. However, the long haul of lockdowns and the necessity to attend online classes restricted his physical activity. Additionally, he took to binge eating to kill his boredom. With the result, he increased in weight,” his father said, who took him to the lifestyle medicine specialist.
Similarly, a parent complained of delayed onset of sleep in his child who had grossly increased his screen time, obviously compensating for the physical activity.
“Certain Lifestyle modifications including exercise prescriptions were recommended helping the child to return to normal sleep cycle,” the doctor treating him said.
During the pandemic various studies have reported significant reductions in physical education as well as the duration of time engaged in physical activity. Such risk factors could lead to higher obesity and lower cardiorespiratory fitness among children, predisposing them to cardio metabolic disease and other health consequences.
Dr Rabbanie Tariq, Preventive Medicine Physician promoting Lifestyle Medicine said educational institutions, therefore, should continue to maintain a physical education requirement as a critical educational component during the pandemic even if it entails some indoor exercise classes, he explained.
“For those schooling remotely, it is critical to prioritize online learning options in the school curriculum and provide access to physical activity promoting materials. The availability of adults to assist in the remote education of children as parents may need to work is also one of identified obstacles wherein supervised physical activity is missing in young children,” he said.
Dr Tariq said a combination of school- and community-based leadership support is required to ensure that children have adult supervision for both academic and physical education.
“For those attending any educational setting, the issues are more complicated as activity must be integrated with the need for social distancing,” he said.
Dr Tariq said for the schools that remained open, it is important for the stakeholders to identify curriculum, activities, and equipment that allow youth to be physically active while avoiding close contact setting or use of equipment which may act as amplifier to transmission.
He said above and all parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active and shared some tips below:
1.Talk with your child’s doctor: Your child’s doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child’s doctor can also help you and your child identify sports or activities that may be best for your child.
2. Emphasize fun: Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will be to continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
3.Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate: For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but football, bicycle riding, and swimming are all well great activities for kids this age.
4. Provide a safe environment: Make sure your child’s equipment and where they practice or play is safe. Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate for the activity.
5. Provide active toys: Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
6. Be a role model: Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
7. Play with your children: Help them learn a new sport or another physical activity. Or just have fun together by going for a walk, or hike.
8. Set limits: Limit screen time, including time spent on TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
9. Do not overdo activity: Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If it becomes painful, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child’s doctor.