Indian school kids lag in health and fitness parameters

Indian school kids lag in health and fitness parameters
Highlights

Indian School Kids lag in Health and Fitness Parameters. The current generation of school children in India, regardless of age group or gender, look to be heading towards an unhealthy future with health and fitness levels lagging, reveals The EduSports’ 5th Annual School Health and Fitness Study 2014.

Bengaluru: The current generation of school children in India, regardless of age group or gender, look to be heading towards an unhealthy future with health and fitness levels lagging, reveals The EduSports’ 5th Annual School Health and Fitness Study 2014.

The study, which covered 1,15,559 children in the age group between 7 to 17 years in 287 schools across 85 cities from 23 states India (list of cities is provided in the appendix to this release) discloses that kids of all age groups show alarming fitness levels. The study was built into the co-scholastic curriculum of schools during the academic year 2013-2014 and involved assessments of key health and physical fitness parameters like Anaerobic capacity, Flexibility, lower and upper body strength and BMI among others.

Girls have healthy BMI scores than boys

In a comparative study between boys and girls it was found that 65% of girls have healthy BMI scores compared to 59 % of boys. However, girls score lower than boys in other fitness parameters (anaerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body strength and abdominal strength), which is indicative that they are still short on overall fitness.

An unfit generation in the making

Geographically, children in all five regions of the country were deemed more or less equally unfit with unhealthy BMI scores of 37% (Central), 54 % (East) 37% (North), 38% (South) and 36% (West). The weighted scores for these regions across all fitness parameters do not vary a lot, which reinforces the view that children all across the country show an alarming lack of fitness.

Non Metros score higher than metros

Non-metros score higher than metros in terms of BMI levels and fitness parameters. Children in non-metros demonstrated better flexibility (75% in non-metros and 70% in metros), had good upper body strength (64% in non-metros and 61% in metros) and a marginal overall BMI score (61% in non-metros and 60% in metros).

So is there a solution?

It is a well established fact that a structured approach to learning is one of the biggest reasons for our academic system to succeed. It helps the teacher know what message to impart to the students and ensures age-appropriate training. A similar age-appropriate approach to structuring a school sports curriculum is bound to reap benefits in the areas of physical fitness and health of children.

Schools provide the best environment for timely intervention

Experts are of the opinion that due to modernization and urban lifestyles, space and time to indulge in sports/play is now at a premium. Unless there is timely intervention in terms of exercise or play, fitness will take a backseat. In the current scenario, schools provide the best environment for providing effective intervention as children spend more time in school than at home. Schools have a clear advantage over the home environment, clubs or academies when it comes to providing necessary resources like safety compliant infrastructure, trained teachers, a dedicated time for sports and a healthy environment to build team spirit and competition.

Increase in the number of Physical Education classes and its impact

Over 81,000 children across 287 schools who underwent 3+ classes per week, as against 2 or less classes per week of physical education, over a period of 9 months showed a marginal improvement of 1 % in BMI levels. However, there was a significant improvement (4 % ) in case of lower body strength and 5 % in case of upper body strength.

A structured sports/ PE program helps significantly improve fitness parameters

The second part to the study involved recording the changes seen in the parameters after a controlled, structured physical education/sports programme was administered to a sub-group of over 27,918 kids children from 116 schools in 34 cities across India. The children went through a structured sports programme over 24 months and experienced 2-4 sessions of structured sports/physical activity per week. Students showed significant improvement across fitness parameters including anaerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body strength and abdominal strength.

Speaking on the 5th edition of this landmark study, Saumil Majmudar, CEO & Co-founder of EduSports emphasized the need for schools to increase play hours for children. “The lack of health and fitness among such a large number of children yet again proves that physical activity/sports in schools should be viewed as an important part of the curriculum for the overall development of a child. There is a need for greater awareness about the importance of play and there must be more time allotted for the same. In the next year, we hope to see far better results.”

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