The BBC is reporting claims from a leading sports medicine consultant that schools should “redefine” physical activity, focussing on low-level effort rather than strenuous exercise…
Dr Mike Loosemore argues cramming “heavy exercise” into a crowded school curriculum does not work.
He says getting children to stand up and move around more could have an extraordinary impact on their health…
Official NHS guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes a day of activity a day for children and young people, including “moderate-intensity” pursuits such as cycling or walking to school, and “vigorous” activities such as playing chase, energetic dancing, football or gymnastics.
On three days a week these should involve muscle and bone-strengthening activities, for example sit-up and press-ups, or skipping with a rope.
The Health Survey for England (2012) indicated 21% of boys and 16% of girls aged 5-15 met these recommendations.
This was down from 28% of boys and 19% of girls in 2008.
Worryingly, nearly one in four (23%) of girls aged 5-7 met the recommended activity threshold. But for 13-15 year-olds the figure was below one in ten (8%).
A leading sports medic, Dr Mike Loosemore, has told BBC Radio 5live that government, local authorities and educational bodies are putting too much emphasis on “heavy exercise”.
He says in the “real world”, schools cannot enforce it, parents do not promote it and government cannot dispense exercise or supervise it.
“It is time to redefine physical activity in terms that are accessible, achievable and available to all. We need to think of exercise as the effect of cumulative low-level effort, not performance-orientated, data-led disciplines.”
Dr Loosemore, who is lead consultant at the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health at University College London, treats elite athletes from a wide range of sports as well as NHS patients with sporting injuries.
He says encouraging low-level activity would deliver life-long health benefits.
“Simply reducing sedentary behaviour has extraordinary effects to cholesterol and blood pressure levels, even in children. Most importantly, the minor movement of muscles and increased heart rate when standing up soak up the sugars in their bodies rather than dangerous surges of insulin that can lead to diabetes.”…
Could Dr Loosemore be onto something here? Sport and vigorous exercise is great, but many aren’t up for it and it probably isn’t necessary to make a big impact on health. How about getting all students to walk fairly briskly for, say, 20 minutes a day instead? Could something like that be possible? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link!