The declining Cooper-test results of the young people doing Finnish military service is a concerning indication of the ever lowering physical fitness of the Finnish youth. As harmless as this may sound to some, the issue is lot bigger. The costs associated to low physical activity to the Finnish society are estimated not be in millions, but in billions. The issue is not just the physical, but also the mental health of the youth. In this blog I will discuss some of the latest results in the field and aim to provide some practical suggestions to improve worrisome situation.
On the 20th of November was the world children’s day. A day set by UN to bring attention to the children’s rights. On the day I attended sports medicine seminar in Helsinki Finland. The theme of the seminar years was physical activity of kids and young people. I listened several lectures where researcher after another reported their latest findings in the field. The physical endurance of kids have been declining the last 30 years. No age group among the youth perform the recommended amount of exercise. What really astonished me was how few middle- and high schoolers perform the recommended amount of physical activity.
The results are also concerning as the studies have established the connection between physical activity and mental health. Physical activity is proven to lower anxiety and stress and activate hormones that increase sense of pleasure and well-being. According to the UKK institute physical exercise increases childrens’ self-confidence and development of health identity. On the other hand, the lack of physical activity is shown to have negative impeach on mental health. These results underline the importance of the exercise for the healthy development of our youth.
Taking into consideration the amount of time children and youth spend in schools, we could start by promote physical activity in its different forms. While the difference between very active and very passive kids makes corporate exercise challenging, there are creative ways to promote physical activity. The classrooms could be furnished with standing desks. While standing on hard floors is not possible, there are highly innovated Gymba boards that make standing comfortable and even enable walking movement while on standing. This could literally lift the youth back on their feet. The good thing about these changes in the mundane routine is that they make a big difference in the long run and can promote lasting change of life-style. Also exercise is connected with improved and learning and memory. These changes should accompanied with physical education that help children to realize the importance of physical activity on their own well-being.
In conclusion, the recent studies show the severity of the problem we have at hand. I don’t think anyone of us want to see the negative development of the well-being of the children to continue. No doubt, these issues are complex, but there are creative ways to answer to these problems. There are a lot of untapped potential in exploiting the latest innovations to promote physical activity for the youth. A journey of million miles starts with a one small step. Maybe we could literally lift our children on their feet and encourage them to step toward better well-being with the right equipment and providing them encouraging reasons to do so.