Growing up in the 21st century is fast resulting in toddlers being ‘screenagers’ rather than teenagers. Children of today prefer to be glued to mobile phone/tablet screens instead of spending time on sporting activities. Academic excellence is now being placed even higher than it used to be by parents. This is in stark contrast to the generations of the past, whose default choice of recreation was to go out and play and is directly linked to the dwindling interest in sports. Besides aiding in the development of the body and mind, sporting activities build personalities. We researched a few sports and came up with a list of 5 that play a huge part in the holistic development of a child.
1. Swimming : ‘Cardio workouts’ refer to activities that help burn calories. Most people choose to run. However, swimming is an excellent alternative. For one, the buoyancy of water prevents a harsh reaction on the skeletal and muscular systems and helps keep your limbs flexible; to the point that it is actually a recommended form of injury rehabilitation. As it utilizes all major muscle groups of the body, swimming is a full-body workout enabling one to burn roughly 250 calories per km. Apart from improving cardiovascular health, studies have shown that swimmers tend to live longer than sedentary people. Fibromyalgia? This condition is as difficult to pronounce as the musculoskeletal pain it causes. Swimming will keep it away. It is also a great idea to dive into the pool when you’re feeling low or are in a sour mood. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge!
2. Badminton: While swimming primarily focuses on improving the body, a sport like badminton sharpens reflexes, improves concentration and patience. It works wonders for the legs by toning the calves, thighs, glutes and hamstrings. It also helps strengthen one’s core. An hour of play burns 450 calories on average. Mentally, it keeps you sharp since a huge part of the game is to deceive the opponent. Playing badminton also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Being a social game, it promotes engagement and interaction with new people and hence will help your child make friends. All of these features truly make badminton a game apt for all round development.
3. Football: Few ground sports utilize the entire body the way football does. Just shooting for a goal uses everything from the feet to the neck. The head is often used to guide the ball across the field of play. Overall, football is great for building muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness. Constant strategy is also the mainstay of the game. One needs to keep second-guessing, dodging and preventing opposition players from getting to the ball, in addition to maintaining smooth play between team members. The social benefits of football are undeniable as well. Being a team-driven sport, it encourages camaraderie amongst team members and healthy competition between opponents.
4. Running: A child loves to run by default. Children are bundles of energy and there’s no better way for them to release that energy than by running races. The immediate benefit of running is improving your mood and giving you peace of mind by producing endorphins. The long-term effects are plenty. It is one of the best ways to lose fat and build muscle. It is also common knowledge that the body’s metabolism gets quickened while running. What many do not know is that this higher rate is maintained for a short while even after the run is completed. Combined with a balanced diet, running regularly promotes fat loss and improves overall health. All your child needs is a great pair of shoes.
5. Tennis: Tennis is a sport that demands arm strength, high stamina and lightning-quick reflexes. It is a fast-paced sport that requires muscular strength and endurance. By coupling fast reaction times with hard running and powerful arm movements, this sport is perfect for improving muscle tone, strength and flexibility. The physical workout also aids in increasing aerobic capacities, lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure. Just like badminton, it is a sport where deception is an important part of the game, and hence it is a thinker’s sport. Its solo and group modes of play help build social circles, regardless of age level.
From Baichung Bhutia to Sania Mirza to Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, India has constantly produced sporting champions in these fields, who started playing sport below the age of 10. To encourage more children to start playing sports at an early age, HT Media has launched the Season 3 of the Great Indian Football Action (GIFA) in the Delhi NCR region. Open to kids in two categories - junior and senior, HT GIFA is the country’s largest football tournament for kids, and last year saw participation from 459 teams. To know more about HT GIFA, visit here . With the world looking to India to produce a non-cricketing legend, the onus is on us to train our youth and light a sporting spark in their minds.
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