he science is clear. Physical activity does more than create good health. It contributes to leadership, productivity and innovation. It lowers depression and crime, increases education and income levels, and generates return to businesses. It unleashes human potential, and this is what drives economies forward. But we are losing our way, todays 10 year olds have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, what are we doing wrong?
Recently the Education Secretary in the UK, Sir Michael Gove, passed guidance to teachers that they must get tougher on pupils and that to give out “traditional punishments” for pupils’ misbehaviour, this included physical exercise, which read as follows:
"when poor behaviour is identified, sanctions should be implemented". One of these sanctions is physical activity like running round a school playing field".
Has Michael Gove lost his way on physical activity and sport within schools?
The Education Secretary has ruffled more than just a few feathers while in office, both from the benches and throughout the country from parents and teachers. I’m neither a parent, nor a teacher. But as child going through senior school in the 80s, changes were being made that caused disruption to the education process and specfically within my school which caused a great deal of disruption for many, what was stable however, was physical activity.
As a kid I loved the Olympics, my parents would set-up a bed in the sitting room and there I stayed until the great event was over. It inspired me, it inspired me to understand that to be the best at something, giving in was not an option, that is how you won medals, that is how you achieved in life, through hard work, passion and above all, having fun!
I wasn’t a particularly gifted child at sport in and out of School, but I enjoyed every minute of it, it helped mould the man I am today. And that sense of fun in sport certainly carried me through life including knowing what honest competion mean't which helped me in my Armed Forces carrear and running the many companies I founded, despite failing the majority of my exams. Within school, I remember playing basketball, tennis, rugby, cricket and athletics, much of which we carried over after school with friends in the local parks, and that included running.
Thankfully, this issue has not been slipped under the media carpet. Many of our top athletes have stepped up and made their voice heard, one of those is 4 x World Ironman Champion, Chrissie Wellington, an advocate for promoting physical activity through education.
I was no Sebastian Coe, but I do remember laughing and having fun. So, to send a directive from our government that physical activity be treated as a means to punish young people for poor behaviour at school, is certainly a grave error, did physical activity have a positive effect on me, you decide?
She went further to later comment in in her blog,
Since the news broke, Gavin Megaw, a family man, school governor and amaetur runner, has created a petition to remove physical activity from the governments guidance for punishing pupils.
You can sign the petition here,
Just a few generations ago, physical activity was an integral part of daily life. In the name of progress, we've now chipped away at it so thoroughly that physical inactivity actually seems normal.
In less than two generations, physical activity has dropped by 20% in the U.K. and 32% in the U.S. In China, the drop is 45% in less than one generation. Vehicles, machines and technology now do our moving for us. What we do in our leisure time doesn't come close to making up for what we've lost.
The positive effects of good nutrition and physical exercise are plain to see, I'm living proof of that and how it benefits our childen through the entire life cycle and throughout adult hood.
Globally, poor nutrition and inactivity is serious problem costing billions per year and impacting the lives of the human race to detrimental levels. We are more inactive now than in history and the financial and physical and emotional costs are not sustainable.
Physical inactivity can bankrupt economies. In the US, China, India and the UK alone, it cost US $200 billion in 2008.
Surely we need a more progressive approach than stating exercise is a punishment?
Statistics provided by www.designedtomove.org