Friday October 18, 2019
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Your Child’s Fitness Needs A Small Amount of Physical Activity

The Daily Mile was founded in February 2012 by Elaine Wyllie, the then headteacher of St Ninians Primary School in Stirling, to improve the fitness of her pupils.

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The Daily Mile was founded in February 2012 by Elaine Wyllie, the then headteacher of St Ninians Primary School in Stirling, to improve the fitness of her pupils.
Representational Image, Pixabay

Motivating school children to take a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity may boost their health and fitness levels, a new study suggests.

The study examined the effectiveness of the popular Daily Mile initiative – which involves children taking a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity.

The findings, published in the journal BMC Medicine, indicate that The Daily Mile can help combat global problems such as low physical activity, high sedentary behaviour, declining fitness levels and high levels of obesity.

“Our research observed positive changes in children who participated in The Daily Mile intervention, compared to our control school where the scheme was not introduced,” said one of the study authors Colin Moran from the University of Stirling in Britain.

The Daily Mile was founded in February 2012 by Elaine Wyllie, the then headteacher of St Ninians Primary School in Stirling, to improve the fitness of her pupils.

Children are encouraged to run, jog or walk around their school grounds during a 15-minute break from class, which is in addition to normal intervals and physical education lessons.

Motivating schoolchildren to take a 15-minute break from class to do physical activity may boost their health and fitness levels, a new study suggests.
Children’s physical activity can make them fit, Pixabay

The study involved 391 pupils, aged between four and 12. Each child underwent an initial assessment and then a follow-up later in the academic year.

Between times, one school implemented The Daily Mile, while pupils at the other — known as the control school — followed their usual curriculum.

Children wore accelerometers to record their average daily minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) and average daily sedentary behaviour.

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They also had skinfold measurements taken to check body fat, and were assessed on their performance at a multistage fitness test (known as a bleep test or shuttle run), where they ran between cones 20 metres apart between bleeps.

The team witnessed significant improvements in the intervention school, relative to the control school, the researcher said.

“We observed a relative increase of 9.1 minutes per day in terms of MPVA and a relative decrease of 18.2 minutes per day in sedentary time,” said study co-author Naomi Brooks from the University of Stirling. (IANS)

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Focus on Menstrual Health Improving Education for Girls in Zambia

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students

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Menstrual, Health, Zambian
FILE - Girls learn to make sanitary pads from imported water-proof materials in project sponsored by the Malawi NGO, Girls Empowerment Network (VOA / L. Masina) VOA

New health classes and government partnerships with not-for-profits focused on menstrual health are improving education for girls in Zambia.

In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision have brought reusable sanitary pads to rural communities.

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students.

Educators at Chitentabunga say the pads have helped reduce absenteeism. In years past, 80 to 100 girls would miss classes at any given time due to menstrual issues across seven schools. Now, just five to 10 girls are out at any given time.

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Pixabay

“We used to have a lot of absenteeism, especially in mature girls, that is, girls that have started their menstrual periods. At a time when they go on their menstrual periods, these girls used to stay away from school,” Tyson Hachilangu, head teacher at Chitentabunga, said.

Girls at the school say the pads have improved their quality of life.

“Before this program was introduced, we used ordinary clothes, which would cause bruises. But now, the school gives us pads, and we also have a special bathroom where girls can go and clean up, in case she soils herself at school,” Choolwe Susu, a pupil at the school, said.

She added that the new resources have reduced the shame and teasing associated with menstruation.

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“Previously, boys used to laugh at girls who soil themselves at school, and this used to [cause] girls on menses to stay away from school. But now we can come to school, even on menses, because menstruation is normal for women, and without it there would be no humanity,” she said.

The program has also helped teach girls about pads, and schools have instituted policies to give girls space to practice proper hygiene.

“We are taught about pads. There are two types of pads. A pad is one that you wear with a pant, while a padden is one you wear without a pant. And if you spoil yourself, you have the right to tell your teacher, who will give you a pad, water and soap to clean yourself in the special bathroom,” Cnythia Choono, another pupil at Chitentabunga, said.

Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, told VOA the country intends to keep advocating for girls. “We want to cut down on early marriages,” he said. “We went to avoid maternal death.”

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision. Pixabay

So far, partnerships like the one with World Vision that brought interventions to Chitentabunga appear to be working. That could become a model for similar kinds of real-world impacts.

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“We have a responsibility to work with members of the community,” Lungu said. (VOA)