Why Fitness Education Is as Vital as Textbook Education
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Physical fitness is just as important for children as learning letters and numbers. This realization is not of recent origin; most schools have a certain number of periods dedicated to physical activities. However, in the context of rising incidences of lifestyle-related diseases among children and adolescents, the question is, is this enough?
Youngsters today need a more active lifestyle to be really fit. Moreover, being physically healthy and pursuing sports actively build confidence and fosters a positive attitude. In themselves, these are good reasons to encourage children to be active.
Before the advent of televised distractions, children were often found outside the house playing in parks and even in the streets. But what really reduced playtime drastically was the arrival and rapid spread of the internet. Online games and social networks have turned out to be an addiction that the new generations have fallen prey to. Instead of going out to play with real friends, they are now keener to show off their prowess online, competing with virtual friends.
Childhood obesity, depression and diabetes in children have become far more common today than they were at point in time earlier. Doctors are advising parents to encourage children to engage in physical activities above and beyond the routine games periods in school.
How to Make Physical Activity Attractive for Children?
To make children want to go out and play, we must help them develop an interest in sports, games and health early in life. Both parents and schools have a part to play in this. There are many things that schools can do to help students lead an active lifestyle from a young age.
Schools already have a system where physical exercise periods are held twice or thrice every week. Encouraging students to participate in a variety of sports activities can help them identify a sport that is right for them and suits their interest and ability. It does not need to be a physical sport only. They should be encouraged to try games like chess, which may be a better choice for some students. They will automatically develop the habit of physical exercise on realising that a fit body is required for a fit mind. In fact, physically active students are consequently healthier and have been found to be better in academics as well. They miss school less as they are sick less often than children who are less physically active.
The government, too, has a major role to play in promoting a culture of daily fitness in schools. More time needs to be dedicated to physical activities in school, ideally about thirty minutes every day. Advising schools to restructure the curriculum to accommodate this time must be prioritised.
With India doing well in international sports events like gymnastics, table tennis and badminton, schools should also be encouraged to have an indoor gym with basic equipment for gymnastics, badminton and other indoor sports. This will provide students with a wider choice of activities.
Schools can involve parents in their sports programmes. Parents may volunteer to coach the school junior teams for some sports. Involving parents will motivate the students to participate with greater enthusiasm.
Physical Activity Beyond School
Building an active lifestyle is not a very difficult proposition. It is as easy as walking or cycling a short distance instead of driving. As a family, planning a daily walk of thirty minutes to sixty minutes can be easily accomplished. As little as thirty minutes of physical activity in a day can increase concentration, focus and self-esteem.
Other than physical activity periods in school and daily exercises at home, there are other activities that can serve the same purpose. Dance, whether the classical or contemporary form, or even Zumba, is an excellent form of exercise in addition to being an art form. The benefit that one can derive from an exhaustive dance class is in no way less that that derived from a brisk walk or jog.
Yoga, too, is of great benefit for someone who wants activity but would rather avoid vigorous running or contact sports. Many schools already have a yoga hour for all students. Yoga improves concentration and calms down the agitated mind; hence, students can focus better on curricular pursuits.
Martial arts are also known to benefit the people who practice it by increasing focus and building discipline. There are many forms to choose from. Then there is the local gym for people who want the guidance of a trainer to help them reach their activity goals.
Alternative Physical Activities
In the age of internet, the list of physical activities would be incomplete without mentioning ‘exergaming’. As internet and video gaming has become extremely popular, the games, too, have evolved from purely sedentary ones to those where a degree of physical movement is required. They have come to be known as exergaming and many people, both children and adults, enjoy playing these games. Though playing games on the internet or WiFi is not the ideal activity option, it is better than simply sitting idle while watching television or surfing the internet.
Fitness needs to be a lifetime commitment. One who commits to it early prolongs wellness and suffers less later in life. However, it is never too late to begin and ensure good health for yourself. With a huge population of young people, a wholesome health initiative adopted by individuals and the government can result in a physically fitter India.