Posted on September 19, 2018 by Gordon Smith
How many times have you started a sentence with “In my day”?
This is usually followed with something about how we had to be more responsible, walked to school instead of being driven or, more commonly, how we could play outside with friends whenever we wanted to.
As adults, we realise that children today don’t have as much freedom to run and play with friends on streets or in parks as they would in the 60’s or 70’s. The effect of this – amongst other factors, such as technology – is that children aren’t exercising as much as they used to which, in turn, is leading to a sharp rise in childhood obesity and stress-related health issues.
The importance of getting children active cannot be stressed enough as there are so many benefits. One solution is for schools to offer more comprehensive fitness equipment at both secondary and primary level. In this article, we outline why.
The importance of exercise
According to the NHS, children aged 5 to 18 years of age should be doing 60 minutes of physical activity every day and reducing screen time.
Exercise is good for you and is crucial for children. Not only does it improve concentration, but it burns off energy, reduces stress, improves overall wellbeing and confidence, not to mention setting out a positive strategy for life.
In a world of laptops, smartphones, tablets, on-demand TV and gaming, it’s easy for children to remain sedentary for long periods of time. One study showed that children between the ages of eight and twelve spend six hours a day looking at a smartphone.
When you consider that children spend over 6 hours at school per day, then they’re not left with much time to get active outside of school hours.
Not only that, but academic pressures are leading to an increase in stressed pupils from as young as nursery age. Research from Barnardo’s highlighted that school and not social media is the biggest concern for secondary pupils.
Regular exercise can help children manage stress better. The endorphins released during a workout increase overall wellbeing and establish a more positive mindset. In adults it can reduce depression by 20%.
With campaigns such as the Healthy Active Schools System and Government campaigns like Change 4 Life, many secondary and primary schools are rolling out healthy-living initiatives. Investing in upgraded and modern gym equipment could set your school on a clearer path for pupil wellbeing.
Even though schools offer PE and a range of sports activities, in some cases, this may not cover a child’s recommended exercise target for the week.
The problem schools face is that they are typically very cash-strapped and are still working with gym equipment based around the ropes-and-climbing bars style.
Rethinking gym design
Contemporary gyms can be created almost anywhere within a school. For a school environment, a gym can be set-up in an unused classroom or dead corridor space. Even a large storage room could be transformed into a workout area.
If you’re looking to add new buildings to your existing campus, then this is also a great time to think about allocating space for a gym.
Gone are the days of bulky equipment and rows of treadmills. Instead, workout stations and zoning for HIIT workouts is where it’s at.
Getting the most out of your school gym
Once your school has made that investment, it’s crucial that you get your money’s worth. Creating an inclusive space for pupils to get active will be important.
Setting-up friendly fitness competitions is one way to engage pupils. Running or cycling league tables can help students work to a project, analyse goals and nurture a spirit to succeed.
You can also incorporate the gym into curriculum work. Studying what happens to the heart and body when active can also inspire pupils to get exercising. The list can go on!
We understand that funding for the state sector is scarce, which is why we are able to offer discounts on a selection of manufacturers to help give schools the ability to realistically budget for new equipment.
Installation and equipment doesn’t have to be paid in one lump sum either, as it can be done in monthly instalments, making planning and budgeting more manageable.
By encouraging overall fitness and wellbeing within a school environment, it can help children have a healthy and positive relationship with exercise. Knowing and understanding how much better it makes them feel will give them a great focus, not just during their school years, but for life.