Physical Activity + Health In Children

Being physically active is very important in maintaining
good health, not only is it very beneficial physically but also mentally,
especially when you are younger (Beck 2013). According to a study done by
(Penedo, 2005). Results of this study continue to support a growing literature
that exercise, physical activity and physical activity based interventions have
positive effects through multiple physical and mental-health outcomes. Most
commonly, those who take part in regular physical activity and present more
desirable health results across a mixture of physical conditions

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With physical activity being both beneficial mentally and
physically, and the number of children aged 2 to 15 being deemed overweight
rising to 28%. 14% of which were overweight and 14% of which were deemed obese
in 2015 according to the Health Survey for England 2015. It is key to try and
get and keep children physically active to try reducing this number. The number
of children who meet the recommended amount of physical activity by the NHS is
worryingly low, the more physically inactive you are from a younger age the
less likely you are to participate in sport or physical activity when you are
older (Lovsin 2010). In 2012 a study conducted by the British Heart Foundation
found that only 21% of boys aged 5-15 years old meet these recommended levels
of physical activity whereas a lower percentage of 16% of girls aged 5-15 years
old meet these recommendations. This shows how little physical activity
children are participating in and this needs to improve in order for children
to get and stay fit and healthy, otherwise they are more likely to not
participate in physical activity when they are older and go onto develop health
problems and diseases such as diabetes etc (Booth 2012).  A great way to start to counter this lack of
physical activity is to target the children’s school time (Corder 2015).

 

School Environment

It’s important to focus on the school environment when
observing and studying children, as that is where they spend the majority of
their time throughout the day (Burgess, 2013). Each school is different in the
length of their school days, for example; academies are allowed to decide on
what their school hours are. On the most part the average school hours tend to
be from 9am til 4pm. They spend 7 hours each day and attend 5 days out of 7.
This is a long period of time for them to spend in one place so it’s key to
focus on the school environment when assessing physical activity levels in
children. Younger children grow up with the same teachers and same peers at
school, thus creating relationships with both. This leads to children sometimes
viewing teachers as role models and making them more likely to follow what
their teacher says, for example if a teacher was to tell children the
importance of eating healthy and being physically active then the child might
be more likely to follow what they say. “Role models appear to have an
important part to play in encouraging, inspiring and guiding people’s choices
and development.” (Fletcher-Wood, 2016). The school environment is important in
promoting health in many ways, its an effective way to set children on the path
to staying and being more healthy and physically active as they grow older.
Schools can encourage children to take part in things outside of school such as
clubs in sport like football.

Physical Education + Physical Activity

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) (2015) produced many
statistics in regards to both adults and children’s physical activity levels as
well as many other similar based statistics. It states that less than half of
boys aged 11-15 (secondary school pupils) have ever played for a team (49%)
where a even less percentage of girls aged between 11-15 years old have ever
played for a team (43%). It goes onto state that an even less percentage of
boys and girls have ever been part of a club that plays sport. 36% for boys and
26% for girls. These statistics show a low percentage of children playing for
sports team’s in and outside of school. By schools encouraging and promoting
health and physical activity this number can continue to rise (Penedo 2005). By
having opportunities for the children at schools such as sports team it will
more likely lead to an increase in physical activity as it allows students to
have that option. Another point would be that by offering a chance to
experience a new sport in a physical education lesson, it may help a student
realise or develop a passion for that sport and therefore increase the chance
of them taking part in it away from school and making them more physically
active in and out of school.

Analysing and assessing physical activity in physical
education lessons is very important as for some children this will be the only
time they are made to do any physical activity. Regular physical activity
participation throughout childhood provides immediate health benefits, by
positively effecting body composition and musculo-skeletal development (Malina
and Bouchard, 1991) Children will receive this through having to do compulsory
Physical education (P.E) lessons every week. They also get the opportunity to
be physically active during their breaks at school (known as recess to some). This
will be for a shorter period of time, however this occurs more often as this is
once a day rather than a P.E lesson, which only usually occurs once a week for
most schools. A study taken by Fairclough (2005) and others concluded, boys
took part in higher intensity activities than girls. The results imply that
recess can contribute 28 minutes for boys and 21.5 minutes for girls towards
the accumulation of suggested daily physical activity intensities that children
engaged in, were low during recess. On average, children in this study did not
achieve 50% of recess time in physical activity

This shows that regardless of getting the opportunity to be
physically active more frequently, the children aren’t made or necessarily
wanting to be physically active therefore resulting in less intensity. 

Physical Activity, P.E & Socio-economic Status

Socio-economic status (SES) is a great way to get an idea of
someone’s health and well-being, people from wealthier backgrounds tend to have
better health as well as have less chance to health risk factors, this is
believed to because of things such as healthier lifestyle factors such as diet
as well as health care (Frank 2013). By assessing SES, it becomes easier to see
if a child is more likely to be more physically active outside of schools due
to things such as resources and past studies stating that children from
household’s with higher incomes tend to be more physically active than children
who are from household’s with lower income. (Cotrell 2012) Now whilst SES may
affect children’s physical activity levels outside of school due to things such
as resources and facilities. P.E lessons only happen once a week, usually for
two hours. This isn’t a long period of time and for some students is the only
chance to be physically active whilst in school. So if the children aren’t
active during P.E and aren’t really active outside of school, they aren’t being
physically active at all or not anywhere near the daily recommendations
atleast. In 2012 a study conducted by the British Heart Foundation found that
only 21% of boys aged 5-15 years old meet these recommended levels of physical
activity whereas a lower percentage of 16% of girls aged 5-15 years old meet
these recommendations. Meaning that there is a large percentage of children who
aren’t participating frequently enough.

There has been a considerable amount of research conducted
around household income and physical activity and the correlation, this
includes looking at specific areas of where people are living, for example
looking at whether a family lives in a rural or urban area. Whether children
from a household with a higher income are more physically active or have
healthier lifestyles including diet. (Frank 2013).

Many studies have taken place and have examined the
connection between family income and children’s physical activity (PA) and have
revealed that children living in less developed areas tend to have limited
access to resources and areas for play than children whose household’s earn
higher incomes (Romero et al., 2001 ; 
Tandon et al., 2015) This study was a cross-sectional survey consisting
of 56 parents of children aged 5-15 years old. Children were recruited and had
participated in a school-based health screening program. The study concluded
that lower income families may utilise their immediate environment and
encourage activity among their children whereas more affluent families focus on
organized opportunity more often than lower income families. These findings
emphasize the need to conceptualize the role family income plays in physical
activity patterns and the potential benefit it provides to some families.

However, there is little research or studies investigating
the affect of SES on physical activity levels in P.E lessons (Walsh, 2010).
From the previous studies conducted in this subject, they tend to look at how
SES affects physical activity outside of school and looking at habitual
physical activity as well as sedentary behavior. This is why this topic has
been chosen (Walsh 2010). By having less information for a specific age group
or within PE lessons in a school environment, it creates a gap in research to
which little knowledge is known. Stopping researchers from grasping the full
picture. By seeing if SES affects children’s physical activity, researchers can
then start to assess why this is and see what is possible to do to try change
this and get more children active. By investigating the school environment and
the affects SES can have on physical activity in PE lessons we can create our
own rationale.

They (NHS) conducted their research by using questionnaires,
filled out by children at the ages of 13-15 and then got children aged 2-12 to
have the questionnaires to be filled out by their parents. The children were
asked to recall the days in the last week they did any physical activity apart
from during school hours (curriculum time). By starting to tackle this problem
at school it is important for families and parents back home to carry on attempting
to encourage their children to stay physically active outside of school also.
This is where this intervention comes into play.

Another study conducted by Cotrell Et al (2015) looked at
SES’s affect on children’s physical activity levels in P.E lessons, had only
really focused on primary school children where the average age was 8-9 years
old. With not much being done of children in secondary school. Thus meaning
there is a gap in the research for secondary school children that have been
done prior to this. Making it ideal to focus on children in secondary school
aged 12 years old. By seeing if SES affects children’s activity levels during
P.E lessons, you can then further research and see why this is and how to
counter it and raise levels in physical activity regardless of SES.

Other studies look outside of P.E lessons and tend to look
at environment and how their socioeconomic status affects their physical
activity levels (Pouilou, 2014). By eliminating the area in which you live in
or the opportunities around the environment in which you live you can really
see if your background or socioeconomic status affects your attitude to P.E
lessons and if you’re physically active within those lessons.

The purpose of this study is to determine how SES affects how
active children are in P.E lessons. In the previous studies they had solely
looked at household incomes and how they affected children’s physical activity
levels and not at their general health and diets also. The literature that has
been reviewed was conducted by the NHS, as part of the health survey 2015. The
report aimed to examine the following; “physical activity levels in children in
England in 2015. Comparing different population groups, by age, sex, income and
region.”

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