How can we boost physical activity in schools?
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How can we boost physical activity in schools?

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Demonstrating the additional benefits of physical activity – such as improvements in concentration and behaviour and body image – is one of the key pillars for boosting its presence in schools.

That was one of the conclusions reached from a recent roundtable event hosted by Precor, which brought together heads of leisure and education to debate challenges and recommendations for engaging young people in physical activity.

The event was chaired by ukactive CEO David Stalker, while the live panel included Karen Rotary from BUCS, Ellen Rowles from Skills Active and Paul Dickinson from 3D Leisure. There were also attendees from a range of schools, colleges and universities including the University of Westminster, Charterhouse School, Astley Sports Village, The American School and Royal Holloway University.

Studies have shown, that physical activity can bring a wide range of supplementary benefits to academic performance, but the panel called for further research into the impact physical activity has on academic performance and behaviours in the classroom to demonstrate its effectiveness. It was also suggested that stronger pathways need to put in place to ensure physical activity is encouraged right through to adulthood.

“This year it became clear to me that, through their sports departments and especially their school senior leadership teams, higher education establishments are engaging a lot more students in physical activity than at secondary school level,” said Mark Storie, director of Astley Sport Village.

“But more work must also be focused on student engagement in physical activity if we are to create a physical activity pathway for students from GCSE level through to Higher Education.”

Participants also discussed topics such as ways to attract ‘zero activity’ students, how to support the call for more funding and timetabled hours for physical activity, plus how to encourage other stakeholders, such as parents and teachers to recognise their role in ensuring children are active.

“We all share a common goal of getting young people more active, more often, and there is some great work already being done by the education sector,” said Jonathan Griffiths, UK marketing manager at Precor.

“These round table events enable us to hear first-hand the challenges our schools, colleges and universities are facing, and are a fantastic platform for sharing knowledge, best practice and further ideas for change.”

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Demonstrating the additional benefits of physical activity – such as improvements in concentration and behaviour and body image – is one of the key pillars for boosting its presence in schools.
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