Inspiring physical activity in schoolchildren

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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The results of an international study relating to fitness in children are bound to get parents proudly puffing their chests and holding their heads high. Why Because it turns out that they could run faster and for longer as kids than their modern-day equivalents can.

The study, which was conducted by the University of South Australia, found that the level of cardiovascular fitness (i.e. the most important type of fitness for overall good health) in children today had deteriorated by as much as 5 per cent per decade.

The study’s lead author, Dr Grant Tomkinson, warned that ‘If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life.’ Though the decline could be attributed to a range of factors such as social, behavioural and psychological conditions, there were also clear physical differences that contributed to performance levels.

‘About 30 per cent to 60 per cent of the declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in fat mass,’ explained Dr Tomkinson.

The solution

Being able to influence and change attitudes towards activity and fitness for the better is therefore crucial to our children’s future health.

‘We need to help to inspire children and youth to develop fitness habits that will keep them healthy now and into the future,’ said Dr Tomkinson said. ‘They need to choose a range of physical activities they like or think they might like to try, and they need to get moving.’

The results of the study surely indicate that there is a significant role for qualified personal trainers to play in inspiring a love of physical activity in children.

If you’re interested in helping to change prevailing attitudes towards health and fitness, then it might be worth investing your time and energy in a Certificate course in Health and Fitness with Motions Health and Fitness. Motions provide the only university-accredited fitness qualification in Ireland.

The Certificate in Exercise and Health Fitness equips graduates to teach and instruct circuit training, body conditioning, step, exercise to music and weight training. It also allows them to conduct fitness assessments and design individual fitness programmes.

It is by developing an understanding of the workings of the body, and what works best for it, that attitudes towards fitness and physical activity can change. Schools at all levels would do well to heed the experts and implement the physical development programmes to complement the existing intellectual ones.

Frank Bolger

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