Here’s why you should get your children to lead an active lifestyle

Sitting is the smoking of our generation. There is enough research to prove that excessive and chronic sitting is one of the most unhealthy habits mankind has ever developed. Thankfully, there has been a lot of attention given to how sitting is hurting us and people have promptly come up with theories, arguments, solutions and ideas both for and against the claim. But here is the problem — none of them work!

What makes me say that? Ok let’s do a posture analysis and list out all the postures a working Indian assumes during the day. Wake-up. Daily deeds. Sit for breakfast. Sit and drive/commute to work. Walk to your desk. Sit and work. Sit through meetings. Walk to the lunch room. Sit for lunch. Walk back to your seat/cubicle/office. Sit and work. Walk to your vehicle. Sit and drive/commute back home. Walk into your living room, claim that you’re exhausted from a hard day and well, sit on the couch. Some more sitting (dinner, TV) and, you hit the bed. Some of us may have an hour of exercise and some extra walking here and there but this describes what the majority of the urban population does.

So what’s the solution? Stop sitting? Sure. Don’t sit for too long or get a standing desk or quit your job or don’t ever watch TV. Though effective, none of these are really sustainable or, more importantly, “normal”. Meaning, sooner or later, you will give in to society and the comfort it pushes on you. You will become “normal” too.

I say, start from the bottom.

Do you realise that schools and our education system are merely training grounds for a sedentary life circling around a desk job? From the age of three, for nearly 20 years we are made, forced and taught to sit in one place for six-12 hours at a stretch. We are told that PT hours can be used to study more or complete homework or eat lunch. We are taught that standing in class is a punishment/embarrassment. We are forced to believe that standing when everyone else is sitting is not normal.

If that’s what you do for the first two decades of your life, why would you do anything different after? Why would you not look for the cushiest couch and the fanciest furniture? Why would you not create multiple “sitting areas” in your house and call them TV room, dining room, games room etc? Why would you not give in to society and its sedentary ways? Why would you not choose to be “normal”?

So what do you do? Start from the bottom. Start with the kids.

* Remove multiple sitting areas in the house. Encourage standing, moving and playing.

* Teach them to have fun climbing stairs, walking and running.

* Make them do their own work. Let them carry their bags, lift the grocery, redesign their room, paint the door, clean the car, trim the bushes and everything else they can do.

* Help them enjoy being mobile and active. Make them fall in love with the feeling of being healthy and fit.

* Don’t underestimate the power of PTA. Talk to their teachers about providing kids with more activity during school hours.

* Plan to play. Set aside ‘active fun time’ with kids. Play, run, hike, wrestle, smile, laugh and bond.

In short, start a little revolution in your house.

(The writer is a certified nutrition and fitness expert.)