The fact is that a child who was considered the most unfit in an average primary school classroom twenty years ago would be in the top five fittest today. To my ears, at least, that is a startling piece of information and one which should make all of us stop and think. Maybe when you do stop and think about it, there is no surprise to the comparison, but it is still enough to stop you in your tracks.
We live in a world that is all about advancement: using technology for the collective good of the human race, investing billions into medical research to cure modern diseases and sharing information openly about issues such as health and wellbeing. Yet, we still manage to miss this salient point when it comes to looking after the future generations: that a fit and healthy lifestyle is the single biggest defender against cancers, heart problems, mental health, muscular skeletal issues and many of the all-too-common issues facing today’s adults.
Surely, we should be doing something about the root cause of these issues (with our children) rather than throwing huge sums of resource and money into fighting the fires they cause!
So why is this happening?
Most of the reasons will probably not come as too much of a surprise to you, I’m sure. But that does not mean to say we should, as individuals or as a responsible, caring society, ignore them. The fact is, that unless someone stands up and does something – nothing will change. In reality, if the technology, entertainment and over-protectiveness trends continue, it is likely to get worse. I’m not suggesting that today’s least fit could become tomorrow’s Olympians, obviously, but the gap between the health conscious and the vast majority will certainly grow even larger as time progresses.
Here are the top reasons for the ‘getting less active trend’ – and more importantly, what we could do to change it:
- Too much entertainment: obsessions (one could even claim addictions) with online gaming, YouTube, social media, Netflix, movies, TV and other sedentary behaviours are more prolific in our society than ever before. These things are a part of modern life, and we cannot escape that, but we should be educating our children about the very real consequences that overuse will have on their long-term I believe the answer is to encourage discipline and give them as many opportunities as possible to addict themselves to more active and physically demanding activities.
- Fear of outdoors: I understand that parents are fearful of letting children ‘play’ outside as they did in the ‘old days’. The reality is, however, that things are no more dangerous or safer now than they ever were. Because of modern media, we are perhaps a little better informed nowadays and more aware of some of the one-in-million horror stories that occur – but it is still largely safe. I’m not belittling or writing-off those who are affected by these tragedies or suggesting that we throw caution to the wind, but we should be more open to letting our children go out-to-play with their friends.
- Lack of opportunity: This one is, of course, a fallacy. There are dozens of courses, clubs, social groups, teams, events and after-school opportunities for children today. All you have to do is search for them and find something that your child might like to try. In the same way that they decided they liked PS2 or chocolate (once upon a time they tried it and decided they liked it), they might like something else. It is up to us, as parents and teachers, to keep giving children the opportunities to try and (hopefully begin to) like physical pursuits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.