According to the World Health Organisation, you need an hour of physical activity each day to take care of your children's health and proper development. Recent surveys show that nearly 80% of children in Poland do not comply with these recommendations. Active MultiSport Schools programme experts suggest how to encourage the young generation to move, also during the holiday season.
Activity translates into physical fitness
Surveys conducted as part of the Active MultiSport Schools programme indicate that up to 20% of primary school students do not attend physical education classes at school.
– Among them, 22% are excused at their parents’ request and 19% avoid PE classes on their own. It is worth noting that physical education classes do not cover even half of the amount of exercise recommended for children by WHO. At the same time as many as 43% of students do not take any family activity during weekends. The MultiSport Index 2019 survey shows that only 8% of people who like to exercise in a company choose their children as companions for joint activity. The holiday season, New Year's resolutions and winter holidays are excellent opportunities to use our free time to introduce new, active habits into a family's life and break down shameful statistics – says Adam Radzki, Management Board Member at Benefit Systems, the company that founded the Active MultiSport Schools programme.
Why it is worth being active?
As experts emphasise, increasing physical passivity translates into deterioration of physical fitness and health of the youngest generation.
– Thanks to the measurements carried out by the University of Physical Education in Warsaw and the Active MultiSport Schools programme we know that children are weaker than their peers from 1979 by about 12%. At the same time, the reduction in endurance capabilities reaches almost 18.5%, while the speed-strength abilities have deteriorated by slightly over 5.6%. For example, in 2018 boys aged 10.5 were able to hang on a bar for almost 8 seconds, which is 16.5 seconds shorter than their peers tested in 1979. If this downward trend persists, soon physical fitness of up to 60% of children in Poland, compared to the results of their peers from 1979, may be at a low or very low level, especially in relation to endurance – points out Dr. Janusz Dobosz from the National Centre for the Study of Physical Condition. Insufficient level of exercise increases the risk of diseases of affluence such as obesity, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
Small steps to big changes – what kind of exercises do children like most?
Meanwhile, the 2019 Active MultiSport Schools survey of activity preferences shows that 80% of children who participate in PE classes do so because they have fun. The motivation for 61% of primary school students is also diversity and attractiveness of classes. Active MultiSport Schools programme experts point out that even the simplest ideas, which are a new form of movement, can bring significant changes and become popular among the youngest generation.
– Classes with Pilates balls, active walks to school or breaks are examples of additional forms of activity introduced by 35 primary schools from Lower Silesia that took part in the first edition of the Active MultiSport Schools programme. After five months, it turned out that the implemented solutions allowed to improve the level of students' physical fitness in 85% of schools. In this way, children regained 43% of physical fitness that their peers lost between 1999 and 2009 – emphasises Adam Radzki.
Good practices and tips on physical activity developed under the Active MultiSport Schools programme have been collected in the form of free guides for chidlren (https://bit.ly/2rZGLyv) and their parents (https://bit.ly/35ySmDh).
The film promoting the guides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtIj4PJEhvQ
– We believe that the guides will inspire adults to introduce new ideas to children's lives to increase the daily level of physical activity, both at school and in free time. We hope that the prepared materials will also become an inspiration to take up family activity, which not only promotes physical condition and health, but also supports building relationships – adds Adam Radzki.
Active during the holiday season
This year’s holiday break can last even a dozen or so days. During this time the consumption of high-calorie meals will increase both for adults and children. In addition, the level of physical activity will decrease, as we spend many hours of Christmas meetings sitting at richly set tables. Therefore, it is worth using this time for joint activities. In this period Active MultiSport Schools programme experts recommend joint activities at home, including morning gymnastics, spontaneous exercise during the day or dancing to Christmas songs, as well as outside, i.e. walking, swimming, sled racing or ice skating.
Benefit Systems is the founder of the Active MultiSport Schools programme, while the V4Sport Foundation is responsible for its implementation.