Getting fit and healthy is sort of at the top of my priority list at the moment, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I got sent this a few weeks back and it really got me thinking, I was always active at school, I took part in nearly every single (girl’s) sport the school offered, in fact I think I focused on sports more than I did my school work. Although I want Ladybug to achieve the best she can academically, I also want her to be an all-rounder and participate in sports.
“Is too much emphasis being placed on academics and not on physical education and nutrition?
School isn’t what it used to be. School fees used to include stationery, uniforms, sporting and extra-mural activities. Now everything is extra. It used to be compulsory to participate in P.E (physical education) and take part in at least one school sport, but that’s no longer the case. In most schools P.E. doesn’t even exist. Parents are feeling forced to sign their children up to private sports clubs if the school doesn’t offer it, which can be very costly.
Across the board, the youth aren’t exercising as much as they used to at school and through socialising. Neighbourhood streets were once filled with kids playing and running around, cycling to each other’s houses, building forts in open fields or congregating at the local park. Now the new way to socialise is to sit at home and chat to friends via the Internet.
Nutrition is also the culprit. In many households both parents work leaving little time to prepare nutritional food. And as the cost of food rises it’s also becoming increasing difficult to fill ones fridge with healthy and wholesome ingredients.
Every year there is an increase in the rates of child obesity, ADHD, diabetes and other forms of disorders linked to bad nutrition and lack of physical activity. Just as adults need to eat healthy and exercise regularly to keep their blood pressure low, decrease their risk of heart attacks and diabetes, and keep their weight under control, so do children. There are much needed benefits children get from exercising.
Dohme Steynberg has a National Diploma in Sport and Exercise and has extensive experience with teaching children the importance of exercise. She owned her own Playball franchise for 12 years that offered basic fundamental sports skills to children from the ages of 2 – 9 years old and is most recently the owner of her own Adventure Boot Camp franchise in Montana, Pretoria. Here she coaches adult women within an outdoor boot camp environment. In her career she’s observed that children who exercise regularly have stronger muscles and bones, they are less likely to be overweight and have well developed gross motor skills which helps them in school with reading and writing. She also says that exercise helps with blood flow in the brain and more oxygen support to the brain means improved memory and concentration. The brain releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which act as feel good brain chemicals that aid in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing self-esteem.
Lack of physical education and bad nutrition has also been linked back to various learning disorders. Parenting24 expert, Kathryn Kenyon has a BA in Linguistics and Psychology and a BA Honours in Psychology. APGCE in Secondary Education (English 1st and 2nd Language and Life Orientation) and has been teaching at special needs school in South Africa and London since 2000. She believes that exercise not only provides physical benefits in the form of weight and health management, but that there is more and more evidence that it helps with concentration and academics as well. “I have seen that fit kids do better in subjects like Maths and Languages, and are more likely to generally succeed at school. I have seen children who spend a large amount of time playing on hand held game consoles who have developed arthritic conditions in their hands. These kids were 16 years old and needed to have access to laptops or scribes for exams as they could no longer hold a pen. There were no underlying conditions to cause this. It was purely lack of correct muscle use and lack of exercise. I have also seen children with extremely low muscle tone from lack of exercise. This affects posture, their immune systems and co-ordination. They are often clumsy and disorganised.”
The youth of South Africa deserve to be educated in a way that recognises their individual needs. However not all children are fortunate enough to receive special treatment should they suffer from a learning disability. So the buck stops with the parents to teach their children about the basics of health and wellness. Adventure Boot Camp personal trainer and franchise owner, Dohme Steynberg suggests doing anything athletic with your child. Kick a soccer ball or throw a tennis ball, run around the garden if you can’t afford to take part in extra-mural sporting activities because starting the habit young will ensure your child’s adult life will be one that is fit and healthy. “Many of the women at my boot camp initially struggled to commit to coming to class. Exercise never played a major role in their lives as children and as a result they have low muscle tone. Their weight loss journeys are much tougher and longer. However it’s easy to spot the ladies who have been exposed to sport their whole lives. Muscle has memory and for them to lose weight and tone up certain areas of their bodies is much easier and quicker.”
So to ensure a healthy future for our children and to celebrate our youth in all their glory as leaders of tomorrow we as adults need to secure their future by educating them about what it means to be a healthy and happy individual and be good role models by keeping fit ourselves. Exercise is an important part of life and so is what we eat. After all a healthy body is a healthy mind.
To find out more about Playball and how your child can benefit from this programme please go to www.playball.co.za. To start being a role model to the youth, call Adventure Boot Camp’s national head office on 021 447 27 46 / 082 567 2267 or go www.AdventureBootCamp.co.za, to find out about their female only outdoor exercise programmes for ladies over the age of 15.”