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Phuket: How teens can stay fit

PHUKET: It’s interesting to note how childhood obesity in children, ages 6 to 11, has doubled in the past 30 years and tripled in adolescents, ages 12 to 17, in the US.

By Patrick du Preez

Friday 5 July 2013, 11:04AM

Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnoea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatisation and poor self-esteem.

They are also likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

As children get older they become far more conscious of their body weight. Girls want to be slimmer and the guys want to be more muscular.

Children at junior school are generally far more active than adolescents. It's ultimately the responsibility of the parents and schools to educate the children to ensure that they lead a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy and doing some form of physical activity.

International schools often have great physical education programmes and health forms an important part of the educational curriculum.

At a young age children love to play, run around and participate in sport. As they mature and become adolescents their interests in physical activity wanes. They become less active, often eat junk food and will naturally gain weight.

We are all well aware that the age of modern technology – computers, mobile phones and gaming devices – has had a huge impact on the lifestyle of students and adults alike. The hot, humid conditions of Thailand does not help as it often keeps students indoors.

So what can students do to get more fit?

Any type of regular, physical activity can improve a student’s fitness and health. The most important thing is that your child keeps moving.

Exercise should be a regular part of your child’s day, like brushing their teeth, eating and sleeping. It can be in gym, joining a sports team or working out on their own. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Stay positive. A good mental attitude is important. Find an activity for your child that you think is fun. Your child is more likely to keep with it if they choose something they like.

  • Take it one step at a time. Small changes can add up to better fitness. For example, let your child walk or ride their bike to school or to a friend’s house instead of getting a car ride.

  • Get your heart pumping. Whatever they choose, make sure it includes aerobic activity that makes them breathe harder and increases their heart rate. This is the best type of exercise because it increases their fitness level and makes their hearts and lungs work better. It also burns off body fat.

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  • Don't forget to warm up with some easy exercises or mild stretching before they do physical activity. This warms their muscles up and may help protect them against injury. Stretching makes your child’s muscles and joints more flexible too. It is also important to stretch out after they exercise to cool down their muscles.

Here are some simple tips to maintaining a healthy lifestyle

  • Watch less TV or spend less time playing computer or video games.

  • Eat three healthy meals a day.

  • Make sure they drink plenty of fluids before, during and after any exercise.

  • Stop drinking or drink fewer regular soft drinks.

  • Eat less junk food and fast food.

  • Get eight to nine hours of sleep every night.

There are a number of activities that students could participate in during their summer break. The importance is to keep moving and stay active.

Patrick du Preez is the MD of Club Asia Fitness, Royal Phuket City Hotel, Phuket Town. clubasiaphuket.com

The opinions and advice contained in this column are those of the author only. The Phuket News is not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any situation.

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