Reflecting on the start of the year and new decade, I was thinking of ways to motivate myself to stay fit and healthy, both in body and mind. Having taken part in the Yateley to Paris 24 hour cycling challenge a few years ago, there was no doubt the challenge had kick started a change in habit. As a busy person, working full time with a young family, time has always been difficult to come by. Exercise has often been the first thing to be dropped from my busy schedule. This had a massive impact on both my fitness and mood. Having tweaked my daily routine I am now able to cycle on average 60 miles each week to and from work. This change in routine has had a hugely positive impact both on my mood and fitness, not to mention on the planet.
The impact of exercise on our bodies has been researched and discussed for a very long time. It is so powerful that the NHS has suggested it is the “miracle cure we have all been waiting for” that could not only reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes by up to 50% but also save the NHS millions of pounds each year.
With all of this in the forefront of my mind I wanted to challenge the children in Year 6 to reflect on their lifestyles. The challenge was conceived: to see how quickly Year 6 could travel around the world using exercise, a distance of 24,901 miles in total. In our recent year assembly I challenged both pupils and staff to record any exercise they do out of school hours. We will combine these into total miles and see how quickly the year group can complete one lap of the earth.
The exercise can be in any form and could be a long-standing activity. It could be walking the dog or going out for a family bike ride. It could be a walk to the shop or a 5 five kilometre fun run. The main aim of the challenge is to encourage children and families to reflect on their active lifestyles.
The use of apps and technology has really aided us to have a greater understanding of what level of exercise we are undertaking and for how long. However, technology is an ever increasing threat to children’s lack of exercise. Gaming, social media and TV are now huge distractions for children, often leading to long stints of inactive behaviour. According to Ofcom and reported in the Telegraph, thousands of teenagers are spending more than eight hours each day online at weekends. These are staggering and frightening statistics.
Some times in life we need a little encouragement. It is easy to sit back and say, “I will go for a run tomorrow” but often tomorrow comes and no run takes place. Exercising in a group or a challenge context often helps us to remain motivated and focused on the task in hand. The times when previously it may have been easy to say “I will do it tomorrow” now impacts the group or team that are all aiming for a shared goal.
NHS England suggest the benefits of regular exercise are as follows:
- Up to 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Up to 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Up to 30% lower risk of depression
- Improved sleep
Exercise Around the World Challenge (Year 6)
- Record in the Pupil Record Book any exercise your child has completed out of school hours.
- Each tutor group has a record sheet that the pupils will update.
- A year group tally will be updated each week with all the distances combined.
- Please record and exercise in miles and remember it could be as little as walking to the shops!
I hope that a challenge such as this will encourage children to be more active and possibly inspire the whole family to join in!
Head of Year 6