With childhood obesity on the rise most parents are tearing their hair as the weighing scale inches slowly but surely towards the right. Oman, with its six months of searing summer heat is a difficult place to raise athletic children. There is a higher chance of them turning into couch potatoes, snacking on the ever available chips and watching shows on TV. So what can you do to shake things up at home?
Make exercise a regular part of the family activity — Make it something that everyone does together over the weekends or during free evenings. It could be a walk on the beach or a game of tennis or jump-roping in the park. Get everyone involved.
Lead by example — These days you can’t get kids to do anything unless you practice what you preach. So trying to get them off the couch so you can watch your favourite TV series is not the best way to go.
Mix it up — It doesn’t make sense to ask your child to run on the treadmill for 20 minutes everyday or swim 10 laps every evening. They are young and bound to get bored easily. So mix it up. Try yoga or dancing or sign up for a trek.
Let them pick the activity — It doesn’t have to be the parent who decides all the time. Let the kids pick what they want to do that day. Give them several known options or let them think out of the box.
Start small — Don’t set lofty targets in the beginning. It could be as less as 10 minutes. Then slowly increase the time to at least 30-45 minutes a day.
Make it a routine — Be non-negotiable. When it comes to brushing their teeth or taking a shower or going to school is there a loophole? Nope. So when it comes to exercise it must be the same way.
Find local events to participate in — There are groups that do treks, rock-climbing, fun-runs and many more activities. Find them and enrol the whole family.
Invite their friends to join in — Children love doing things with their friends more than their parents. That’s something we all know, so exploit that fact. Find like-minded families and plan group activities like trekking or bowling or trips to the ice-skating rink.
Fit is in — Make them understand that being overweight and unwieldy is not cool. Exercise is in and being fit is the way to be.
Limit screen time — Spend a maximum of 1-2 hours in front of the TV. When there is no cartoon to watch then automatically the swimming pool will look more inviting.
Make it fun — Don’t make it a chore make it a reward. Something they look forward to rather than run away from. Find out what they like and tailor-make your sessions to suit their taste. There are million indoor games you can play, to stay away from the heat and be fit at the same time. From yoga to jump-rope to tickle-tag, pillow-fights and dance parties. Be inventive and stay fit.