Is Britain competing for the laziest country title?

So as we leave behind the recent national health campaign of ‘National childhood Obesity week’ we draw closer towards the long awaited Olympics, undoubtedly most spectacular sporting event of 2012.

Is Britain competing for the laziest country title?

However, amongst all the hype and positive energy in the build-up to the Olympics I was brought back to earth with a bump when I read a recent report stating that in terms of fitness, Britons are 3rd in line for the ‘Laziest country’ award.

Obesity is on the rise

It’s no news that obesity is on the increase and that all family members, if they aren’t already, should be taking steps to ensure their children learn about making healthy lifestyle choices. However, the startling facts that some school uniforms are being made specifically for children who have become obese, coupled with children themselves blogging about how awful their school dinners are makes you ask – “Are we really aware?” Not purely in terms of what we offer at meal times but what’s going on in schools, children’s centres and P.E. Physical Education – “What exactly are our children being educated on, when they go for P.E. lessons?” for example. Is having weekly P.E. and a salad bar in the school canteen really enough?

I’m not having a go at schools as such, but it just brings us back to the whole issue of how unhealthy our nation has become. The statistics are clear to see and whilst many of us may cruelly nudge our friend and have a giggle at spotting someone whose muffin top has escaped their hipster jeans, the facts just aren’t that funny. Throughout Europe, Malta steals the crown for inactivity, Serbia falls in to 2nd place and Britain is a close 3rd with 63.3% of us not doing the recommended amount of exercise per week, according to the study.

Educating children on healthy living

So as much as we all strive to encourage our children to eat well and be active, let’s look at other ways we can really educate our children on healthier living for the long term. Getting involved with school councils and fighting for healthier meal options, find out what sports events are on offer during and after school and don’t be afraid to probe teaching staff for what they are doing to educate our children on their overall wellbeing. As well as these areas, there are lots of things you can do together as a family that can be fun and cost effective. Activities such as:

  • Orienteering (Every Dad likes being responsible for a map and a compass)
  • Nature walks at the local parks and Heritage Centres
  • Hire a mountain biking guide as a one off and get familiar with the local tracks in your area
  • Mini Assault courses in the house or back garden (see my previous article on getting fit with
  • Swimming – it’s an oldie but lots of the local authority pools are offering free swimming
    lessons for children these days
  • Martial Arts – Perhaps more costly but many organisations for Karate, Judo etc offer family
    sessions now.

The Guidelines:

The current recommendations for physical activity are that you do 5 days of 30 minutes moderate activity per week or 3 sessions of vigorous activity per week.

Don’t forget that these activities count too!(As moderate exercise)

  • Walking the dog
  • Upping the tempo with the housework (get squatting as you hoover!)
  • Chasing around the children for most of the day
  • Walking/cycling/taking stairs to/from work
  • Gardening

Thankfully more and more of us are becoming pro-active towards our health and that of our children and we are taking the necessary steps that we need to. It’s just instilling that importance in them so they can take it forward into their adult lives and hopefully events like the Olympics will continue to generate funding for sports initiatives, provide inspiration and motivation for young people.

Photography: Vaughan Lieberum @Flickr

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