You have all heard the saying ‘Health is wealth’. Ever thought how!

In today’s materialistic world, all wealth means to most people is money, lots of money.

But dears, keep in mind that no matter how important money is — and one can in no way deny that money is needed for a lot of things — it cannot replace health or even buy health if you once lose it. You can buy medicine with money if you are sick, but it is no guarantee that your health would be restored.

At your age, you may not be faced with such a situation where you have to take medicine to keep you going — though there are some children who need to take medicines on a regular basis due to various medical conditions. But you must have seen your grandparents, or even parents, having to take medicine to remain well and healthy.

But why take the chance of having to depend on medicine to keep you going when you grow old? Would it not be more appropriate to make some effort at this age, when you have time to take care of your health, so that you do not face health problems later in life.

When it comes to health, the most important thing is eating a balanced diet. This means consuming all sorts of food, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables in the right proportion. You can make faces all you want, but you have to eat your greens!

At present, you are all busy in your studies, which is important to make your career and be successful in life. But to be able to concentrate on your studies and do well in academics, you have to be healthy and strong. If you are not feeling well, you cannot focus on your studies, and may even miss school if you fall sick. You will then need to put in extra effort to cover the missed lessons. So why not take care of your health so you do not fall ill and fall back on studies?

Remember, if you are in good health, you are less likely to catch even seasonal illnesses such as flu, and if you are generally weak, you are more prone to all sorts of infections.

Your health is in your hands. Only you can preserve your health. Your parents, teachers and other elders can only guide you, but it is you who has to make the effort. For example, your mum cooks healthy meals keeping in mind the nutritional needs of the family, but if you refuse to take a balanced diet and eat healthy food, you are not only wasting her effort, but also ignoring your health.

When it comes to health, the most important thing is eating a balanced diet. This means consuming all sorts of food, meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables in the right proportion. You can make faces all you want, but you have to eat your greens! There is no running away from that as they provide important nutrients that your body needs.

We all love junk and fast food; those French fries dipped in ketchup, burgers with dripping cheese and mayo, pizzas and chocolate fudge cake, but they are not very good for our health. Fast food or processed food, and also cold drinks and packaged fruit juices are rich in calories. They may provide instant energy and keep you going through the day, but, in the long run, they do not provide the required nutrition and the calories would end up increasing your weight, making you lethargic.

I am not asking you to stop eating fast food or not to snack on chips and other munchies, but it would be a better idea if you replace some of these with fruits and veggies. It is not a difficult thing, you just have to develop a taste for these and make it a habit to pick an apple or any other fruit rather than open a packet of chips when you feel like snacking.

Our country is blessed with so many fruits throughout the year. Just visit any fruit shop and you would realise how many options you have.

Healthy eating does not mean you should start counting calories every time you sit down to eat something. The idea is to include food items from all food groups in a day’s meals so that you get all the nutrients you need, such as vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other micronutrients. If you take care of your eating habits, no one will ask you to give up your favourite fast foods and munchies all together. Of course, we don’t want to take away all the fun.

Besides diet, the other important thing for our good health is physical activity. Some children complain that they do not have the time for sports, but then spend hours in front of the TV or playing computer games. Some computer games may promote mental activity and keep the mind sharp and alert, but spending hours in front of the screen is neither good for your eyes nor does it provide any physical activity to keep you fit and healthy.

Engaging in physical activity doesn’t mean that you join a gym and do extensive workout or be a member of some sports club. If you can and have the means, do it. But if not, you can just pick a ball and bat, or hockey stick and go to any empty ground in your area to play even if you are few in number. Or invest in a couple or racquets, shuttlecock and tie a net in your veranda or the backyard, and invite a few friends to play badminton.

You know when we were young, we used to spend lots of time hitting the ball against a wall or tapping it on the floor. If we had company, we would compete to see who does it for the longest time. It would give us the much needed exercise and keep us from getting bored.

Another favourite pastime was skipping the rope. It is a good exercise, keeps you fit and agile, and does not need much space or paraphernalia, so you can’t complain of not having much open space or financial restraints.

Talking of cost effective ways of indulging in physical activity, how about yoga and some basic exercises at home? Just buy a yoga mat — it’s not expensive and is available at all sports goods stores — or some dumbbells. And since you all have access to internet, you can watch some videos and learn to do it like a pro.

If you have a bicycle, just cycle around in your driveway if you have one or in the lane in front of your house, if your parents consider it safe. Then, if you are old enough and have the permission of your parents, you can have fun cycling with your friends in a nearby playground. If you live in an apartment with a compound, you can cycle in the safe surroundings around your home.

The idea is to indulge in any physical activity to keep fit. There are thousands of options to choose from, so you don’t have to force your parents to pay exorbitant gym fees or buy expensive exercise equipment. The purpose is to keep your muscles and joints flexible, and burn the calories that you consume.

And yes, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated by drinking sufficient amount of water. Though soda drinks and packaged fruit juices do keep you hydrated, they contain sugar and so should be consumed in moderation as they are quick to add weight.

So eating right and physical activity is the key to a healthy life. Start taking your health in your hands from today. Happy living!

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 2nd, 2022

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