A-life – Fitness of School children
A-life – Fitness of School children
Forming Active Habits
There is an abundance of research and evidence showing the fitness of school children is poor and that children are not getting enough exercise and this is resulting in a generation of unhealthy children. A Change 4 Life campaign found that from 260,000 children in the UK, 72% did not take part in the recommended one hour of exercise outside school per day.
The primary school curriculum stipulates that children should take part in 2 hours of in-school physical education (PE) each week. The problem is that many schools are not achieving 2 hours of PE a week and some of those that do achieve 2 hours a week include changing time and explanation time to make up their two hours. Therefore, the actual time of heart raising activity can be as low as 10 minutes to 1 hour a week. This is a start, of course, and can teach children movements etc, however, if children do not take part in additional exercise outside of school they are likely to be extremely unfit and unhealthy. If these exercise habits continue, children are at a high risk of heart disease, obesity and linked diseases later in life. Research finds that habits developed in childhood often continue into adulthood.
The ‘Screen Time’ Epidemic
One habit that is on the rise in children is the amount of time spent watching TV and playing computer games or on phones and tablets. The Change 4 Life survey showed that 45% of youngsters watched TV or played computer games before school and only 22% did something active after their evening meal.
In the past children were generally more active and could play safely in the street or local park. There were no computer games for children and TV was limited. However, as the safety of our children is a concern for many parents, they feel it is much easier to allow children to sit on the sofa and be entertained in a safe environment than to worry about their safety at a local park.
The Fun Factor
As an A-life coach I talk to many teachers, some of which have over 30 years of experience, and they often express concerns that children these days seem to be ‘covered in cotton wool’. Many children think that breaking a sweat means something is wrong and I personally have had children say to me: “my heart is beating so fast and I feel really tired”, after a two minute warm up. I have noticed that most children do not push themselves when it comes to exercise but are interested in fun. This is important for teachers and parents to know as they need to find fun active activities that will increase fitness while seeming fun to children. Studies show that children do not release many (if any) endorphins after exercise so fun is the key to a good exercise regime for kids. The best advice I can give is for parents to get involved. Get active and get fit with your kids, as this is a major motivator for kids and leads to a healthier family.
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