Ensuring kids maintain a physically active lifestyle

PETALING JAYA: With rising concern of children leading sedentary lifestyles, parents are signing their kids up for physical activities as early as possible to ensure a better quality of life in their coming years.Nur Hidayatul Husna, 28, sends her three-year-old daughter for swimming lessons.

She said she believes that parents should play a significant role in shaping their children’s future, adding that aside from giving her daughter an active lifestyle, such activities would also bring her health benefits and life skills.

She added that as a mother, she does worry about the effects of her daughter’s frequent gadget use, who may become less physically active.

“I still allow screen time for my daughter but at the same time, I will ensure she does enough outdoor activities, including swimming lessons,” she said.

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Nur Hidayatul added that she also lets her daughter play in their garden to practise her motor skills.

Personal trainer David Eng Huat, 39, said having a conducive physical environment alone will not be enough to ensure an active lifestyle among children.

The father-of-three said that a healthy lifestyle should be demonstrated by equally active adults, including parents.

“Parents have to lead by example. There is no point nagging kids if the parents themselves are barely doing physical activity,” he said.

Muhamad Nazhiim, 30, said he is already planning to sign up his young son for golf lessons once the three-month-old is older.

“I intend to include him in a lot of our activities and sports, one of them golf,” he said.

He also expressed hope that the education system will incorporate more outdoor activities to promote physical mobility, especially among primary school students.

Fitness professional Jonnath Tan, 31, said being physically healthy from a young age will certainly contribute to a better quality of life in the future.

“I am concerned that ... adults nowadays are experiencing some sort of physical, mental or psychological pain, apparently due to their lack of fitness.

“Most of them will tell you physical activity was lacking in their younger years.

“Based on statistics, children with poor physical activity are likely to have that same trajectory of poor quality of life,” Tan added.

Hailing the many benefits of physical activity, he said one will not only get better energy levels throughout the day, they will have higher self-esteem and confidence, while also being able to take better care of themselves and loved ones.

Last year, then-health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said four out of five teenagers in Malaysia were physically inactive.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia 2022 Physical Activity Report Card for Children and Adolescents launched by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia found that children aged five to 17 in Malaysia scored an unsatisfactory D result on their physical activity and health.

The report card referred to the data collected from national surveys and government reports between 2016 and 2022, and referenced 12 indicators, including overall physical activity, participation in organised sports, active sports, active transportation, sedentary behaviour, schools, government, and diet.

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