There’s a lot of talk these days about being healthy and boosting your immunity. First things first. Do you know what immunity is?
Immunity is your body’s ability to be able to fight infection. Let’s make it even more simple. Germs and disease-causing viruses and bacteria that make us sick are just like invaders in our body. Just the way our country has armed forces to combat attacks from another country, our body too has its own armed force.
This armed force in our bodies is made up of mainly white blood cells and some tissue, organs and cells that make up the body’s defence mechanism or immune system. In the modern world, each one of us has to be healthy and strong enough to be able to combat disease and we have learnt this only recently as the world goes through the coronavirus pandemic.
So it has become even more important to be fit and healthy, and have a strong immune system. People who care about us, such as our parents, doctors, teachers, and the rest of our family, want to help children and younger people like you to be healthy. This is perhaps the reason why your mother is always on your case to finish your vegetables, eat lots of fruit and put some kind of a limit on your candy, pizza, burger and fries intake.
Being fit is a way of saying that a person eats well, gets a lot of physical activity and maintains a healthy weight. If you’re fit, your body works well, you feel good and you can do all the things you want to do, study and work hard, run around and play with your friends, or be a sports star at school.
These days we are spending a lot of time at home with our families to prevent the spread of coronavirus, there is not much activity going on while there is more focus on eating. So why don’t we make this a golden opportunity to look after our health by eating well and doing some exercise daily. Some of the ‘eating well’ responsibility falls on your parents, for it is up to them to provide you with healthy meals and most parents do. They also provide you with opportunities for physical activity.
It is generally children and teens who reject healthy home-cooked meals and give preference to fast food. Sure, we all love to binge on a juicy burger or a cheese dripping pizza from time to time, but this kind of food should not be eaten regularly. But as kids, you too can take charge when it comes to your health.
Keeping some days aside for special treats like birthday cakes and ice cream, you can follow five basic rules if you want to be healthy and fit. If you are someone who loves snacks while watching movies or make several trips to the fridge in between meals, just start out by following most of these rules and take it nice and slow.
Good health and the feeling of being fit makes you feel good, so sooner or later you are going to start following all the five rules.
1. Eat all kinds of food
Some of us prefer rice, while others may like bread more. That is fine because we all have our own favourite food. The trick here is to eat a variety. By eating different foods, you increase your chances to get a variety of nutrients that your body needs.
Don’t hate spinach and eat only potatoes. Taste a variety of vegetables. You may like the new recipe that your mum used to cook beans. Your target has to be five servings of fruit and vegetables. It could be three fruits and two vegetables or vice versa. You could have a banana or an apple for breakfast. Have another fruit snack later. Make sure you have some vegetables along with your lunch and dinner or have some salad. Some fruit after dinner or as an evening snack and you are done with your day’s intake of veggies and fruit.
Vegetables and fruit and nature’s powerhouses that heal and prevent you from getting infections by increase your bodies’ armed forces — remember immunity? The amazing thing is that in each season, nature brings you fruit and veggies that can boost your immunity against diseases that you may catch in that particular season. For example in summer, melons hydrate us while in winter, citrus fruit provide us with lots of vitamin C to prevent us from catching cold.
2. Drink water and milk
Say no to fizzy drinks and juices that come in boxes and packs. These contain a lot of added sugar which just adds weight on your body, but doesn’t give the nutrients. Drink as much water as you can, because it is the best thirst quencher and 75 percent of our bodies are made up of water.
Milk is the other drink that you should drink because it contains calcium, which is needed by the body to build strong bones. To fulfil your daily calcium needs, you can do a mix and match of dairy products. Have a glass of milk, a slice or chunk of cheese and a bowl of yoghurt, which always makes a good snack. You could add some strawberries or bananas to your milk or yoghurt, which will ensure your fruit intake as well.
Fresh fruit juice is good to drink, but if nature wanted us to have just juices and not fruit, there would be bags of mango or orange juice hanging off trees instead of whole fruit. It is the fibre content in fruit that is important for our bodies. Fibre helps our bodies to eliminate waste products and toxins that might otherwise stay back in your bodies and make you sick.
3. Listen to what your body says Are you eating too much? Is that your third helping of biryani? Your fourth seekh kabab?
You know what it feels like to be full. It is that uncomfortable feeling when your tummy is stretched out to its capacity and you can’t even breathe! Are you sitting down to eat your lunch when your body is telling you that you are not hungry?
Eat just enough to fill your stomach, not enough to force it to bloat. Sometimes, we eat too much because the food tastes really good and we are very greedy, but we don’t notice that we need to stop eating. Only take as much on your plate that you can finish. Don’t waste food and don’t overeat. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable and this can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
4. That’s too much screen time
Screen time is all the time you spend watching TV, or on your laptop, PC, tablet or mobile phone. Whether you are playing games or watching something on your smartphone, there should be a limit to it.
Time yourself. Nowadays that you are at home because of lockdown, you are probably enjoying the relaxed rules of screen time because you cannot go out. But you must realise that the more time you spend lying on the couch with your particular screen, the more you are sitting down or lying down and not doing physical activity. Limit yourself to not more than two hours of screen time per day. Spend some time daily playing badminton, or shooting baskets if you have the facility in your home. Otherwise, you could use a skipping rope or do a workout.
There are plenty of options available online. Just make sure you are doing what is okay for your age. Put some music on and dance to it, because that is fun way to do some exercise, burn some calories and pump up your heart rate. Cycling is another option if you have a safe neighbourhood and your parents allow you to cycle around.
5. Be an active kid
Once the lockdown is over, you can figure out what is your favourite physical activity because exercise makes you strong and boosts your immunity. Do you like tennis, badminton, basketball, cricket or football? Or are you a gym person? Do your parents have gym equipment at home? Or do you like dancing? Maybe you are the kid who likes martial arts such as karate or taekwondo.
You could discuss with your parents and they will be able to guide you the best of what is suitable for you, considering availability and affordability.
So eating well, sleeping enough and on time and getting some physical exercise daily can make a fit kid out of you and fit kids are happy kids. Are you up for the challenge?
10 reasons why you should choose an active lifestyle
Sixty minutes of activity per day demonstrate lower rates of obesity in children.
Studies show that kids with more physical activity get higher scores in reading and math.
Body and brain development go hand-in-hand, especially when you are young.
Exercise requires a high degree of sensory input such as sight, sound, touch, etc., and this helps develop many skills that improve your physical activity later in life.
Children who exercise show improved behaviour in school.
Active children are more likely to grow up into active adults.
Children who exercise have more developed brains and nerves. Physical activity that requires balance and coordination is associated with improved emotional response.
Kids who exercise have little or no signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Regular exercise leads to positive image of yourself.
Active kids feel less stress and anxiety and handle situations better.
Published in Dawn, Young World, May 30th, 2020