Getting physical activity right in schools

In the past few decades, the amount of scientific information available on the importance of regular physical activity and good nutrition has grown dramatically. This information has helped researchers better understand how a healthy diet and regular exercise affect disease, processes and what benefits are available to those who have a healthy lifestyle.

Research has proven that 40% of all cancers are a result of unbalanced diet, obesity and lack of physical activity. For women it is believed that physical activity has a 40% chance of reducing risk of breast cancer. What is more worrying is that our children are gradually falling into this “unhealthy snare�?. It’s entangling little ones with child obesity on the rise.

Many experts are convinced that lifestyle is the culprit and the cure. We have become sedentary at home and in the workplace. We now sit almost everywhere, we lack physical activity.

Read about Healthy Mealtimes here.

Physical activity is defined as any activity that requires you to move your body around by contracting and relaxing your muscles.

Physical activity should not be seen as a programme event for family fun days or sports days. Physical activity should be encouraged at all times and should become part of our daily lives.

What are the best ways to become physically active at school?

  • Reduce prolonged sitting when you do homework, get up and walk around every 40 minutes.
  • Take the dogs for a walk or do something active when you take a study break.
  • Use breaks during the school day to walk around and socialise instead of sitting.
  • Instead of using the elevator try using stairs.
  • Participate in an extra mural at school that gets you moving.
  • Become more active at home by helping your parents to do gardening and general cleaning.

Some of the benefits of being more active throughout your day include:

  • Improves concentration.
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  • Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Helps reduce stress.
  • Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Helps control weight.
  • Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.

Encouraging physical activity in different settings will create healthier, efficient, engaged students and increase academic performance.