Over the past few months I have been training classes of secondary school children. And it can be pretty depressing at times. Don’t get me wrong, the kids are great but they are really unmotivated and uncoordinated. And I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that schools and parents don’t encourage kids to exercise these days. So I do my best to educate the kids about fitness, in the short time I have with them.
However, that can be a real challenge with the contradictory messages that we are giving our children. And this story about a Snickers bar is a perfect example…
One day, the children went to a gym to learn about fitness and nutrition. They were asked by the trainer, “Who likes Snickers?” Everybody said, “Yes we love Snickers.” They all loved chocolate. So the trainer said, “Okay, everybody go to a cardio machine – like a running machine or rowing machine – and now you are going to work out for as long as it takes for you to burn off the calories in a Snickers bar.”
Well it didn’t quite take a marathon to burn off the Snickers bar, but it was a long time – about a 40 minute cardio workout. After the workout the children were asked, “Who wants the Snickers bar now?” Not one child wanted the Snickers bar because they realised how much extra work they would have to do to burn it off.
This was a great way to educate the children, but it backfired when one of the parents complained. That night, after their evening meal, one of the children was offered sweets and chocolate by their parents. The child, remembering the lesson from earlier that day, refused the sweet treat saying that sweets and chocolate contained a lot of calories, which were really hard work to work off. But their parents were unhappy about this and complained to the school.
Now this concerns me. It is the job of parents and schools to educate children. We want them to be fit and healthy and have a good life so if we don’t feed children the right food and support them to lead active lives and educate them about fitness and nutrition, then we are really letting them down.
And the best time to educate children is when they are young – their brains are like sponges that just soak up knowledge. And it seems really unbalanced to me that we focus so much on exams, but place so little emphasis on heath and fitness.
As I always say, “fit body, fit mind” – and I believe that a healthy lifestyle can have a really positive impact on a child’s ability to learn and do well in life.
And to do the very best for our children, we have to make sure they get the very best education – which health and fitness should be major part of.
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