A new report by Natural England has revealed a 13th of our young population don’t venture outside to play. Nearly 5,400 children were surveyed and only 17% had visited a beach. We have written about the ever growing popularity of beach schools who actively combat this figure but it’s clear that physical literacy and going outside is becoming obsolete in the face of increasing sedentary behaviour and screen time which has been linked to increased rates of depression in young people.
Active students perform better according to research.
This news hits amidst the backdrop of quickly escalating childhood obesity numbers and notable 5 year reductions in our children’s expected lifespans.
Unsurprisingly 67% of children believe “being in nature makes me happy”
It has also come to light from the report that whilst these figures are depressingly low they are higher than the amount of outdoor time spent by our nation’s adults. Economic factors also effect the results with 10% less poorer family’s getting outdoor time compared to more affluent families.
UK Active this week published a news report detailing that university students who engage in physical activity experience improved mental health and feel they are more employable and perform better. Physically active children were monitored and they experience a 16% improvement in productivity against inactive children. So the stats all point to better physical health aiding better mental health and clear cut improvement in academic results.
Not surprising really when you consider that the same part of the brain which manages movement also manages executive function and learning. There has been a bidirectional study in adults which shows a robust connection between activity and improved executive function.
In longitudinal multilevel models low levels of physical activity led to subsequent declines in executive function.
Now let put this in basic English;
- Adults who are active demonstrate sharper thinking. When you stop moving your thought processes slow down.
- University students who exercise believe they are more employable, happier and perform better.
- Children at school level are less productive and becoming depressed due to an increase in screen time and decrease in exercise and outdoor time.
Schools can combat the tide of sedentary culture in their classrooms and give their students an edge by building physical literacy into the classroom and integrating standing desks to normalise movement for our young people. Other standing schools are reaping the benefit of students with flexible seating. Their pupils are proven to participate more and become more productive in the process.
Physically literate children become active adults, perhaps the more active ones will get those 5 years back from their expected lifespans and retain their sharp thinking. This writer believes it’s our duty of care to help them achieve this.
Laura Donnelly of the Telegraph has reported on a study by The American Cancer Society which shows a sharp upturn in obesity related cancer instances in younger people. The study used data from half the population of the USA over a 9 year period to conclude that whilst cancer is seen as a disease of the elderly that obesity related cancers have increased dramatically in the focus group of 25 to 29 whilst other cancers either declined or remained the same.
British experts have warned that this might reflect a similar threat the UK population as our obesity rates are growing much faster than in the states. The UK's obesity rates have risen a startling 92% since 1991.
"For example, while annual rates of bowel cancer fell by 3.65 per cent in those aged 80 to 84, and by 2.96 per cent, in those aged 60 to 64, they rose by 2.41 per cent in those aged 25 to 29, and by 2.38 per cent in those aged 30 to 34." wrote Laura Donnelly.
The overarching concerns are that these disturbing increase in cancer rates due to obesity could completely negate our advancements in the NHS's ability to combat cancer. Experts who undertook the study have warned that screening for obesity is their recommended solve for this which would be very much inline the NHS new take on preventative healthcare.
Lead author Dr Hyuna Sung said “More than half of adults who were 20 to 49 years old between 2010 to 2012 reported poor dietary habits, such as eating little fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish at the same time as eating too much salt, fast food, and sugary drinks”
Recent reports have shown that 2.3 million kids are inactive and that physical literacy in the classroom is imperative to ensure the next generation grows up in touch with their own health needs and used to moving.
70 million young children will be overweight or obese by 2025 if current trends continue according to the Childhood Obesity Foundation.
Flexible seating is imperative to schools adopting a culture of activity and increasing their pupil’s movement levels. Student Standing Desk Trials for classrooms are available here.
On Topic: Childhood obesity rates soaring
Next week is Children's Mental Health Week and the theme of the year is to be Healthy: Inside and Out. Looking after bodies and minds is a message very much in keeping with the benefits UK schools report back to us they experience with classroom standing desks.
Pupils actively look forward to classes with flexible seating options and can move more freely and express themselves confidently. Active pupils are reportedly more productive and more likely to engage the lesson. Good mental health we believe is essential to fostering an environment suitable for learning and allowing our children to be well rounded and happy. READ THE FULL STORY HERE
SUMMARY: MacDonalds are being delivered to schools despite the anti-obesity ban amid the backdrop of a Birmingham Child Type 2 Diabetes epidemic undermining headmasters efforts to inject healthy culture into schools. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Physical literacy is the ability, balance, confidence, desire and exploratory nature to live an active, healthy life. Student Standing desks can be used to integrate physical literacy at minimal effort.