The Role of Physical Activity in the Prevention of Obesity

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As a nation we need to acknowledge that the prevention of obesity, which affects approximately one in four children today beginning in childhood, offers the most effective means of achieving a healthy weight. Therefore, how do we prevent childhood obesity and what strategies can be implemented that will increase and promote awareness of increased physical activity amongst young children? A whole of society approach can play a major role in addressing and or preventing obesity. If young children can be educated and informed about the important benefits of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle through participation of family, media, health and school environments, and apply what they learn to everyday habits, then maybe the percentage of children who are obese today will decrease (Australian Medical Association, 2009).

This essay will outline the importance of physical activity for Middle Childhood and discuss the role a teacher could play in addressing and or preventing obesity. Additionally detailed are three possible strategies a teacher could pro-actively implement into their classroom in addressing and or preventing obesity of children throughout their Middle Childhood years, in order to help prevent and manage this health epidemic that currently exists in Australia.

Why is Physical Activity Important for Middle Childhood?

For young children physical activity can be an enjoyable developing experience, however physical activity levels can start to decrease as early as Middle Childhood (6-10 years) by as much as fifty percent. Therefore it is of great importance that physical activity, which can be defined as any movement produced by our bodies that result in energy expenditure, is continued during Middle Childhood as they grow and develop as this can further benefit them (McDevitt and Ormrod, 2010).

Participating in daily physical activities can be associated with having many positive effects on various domains of a child’s development and health such as, promoting healthy growth and development, building strong bones and muscles, improving balance, developing flexibility, improved cardiovascular fitness, improved posture and helping to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Furthermore, it also assists in developing fine gross motor skills such as running, throwing, jumping, catching and kicking that can additionally provide positive social, mental and academic benefits. Children are more likely to feel confident, relaxed, and participate in group sports that will provide more options to take part in a wider range of activities as they progress through life experiences (Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2004).

Additionally encouraging children in their Middle Childhood to be more physically active and less sedentary in their day to day environments can establish valuable habits that potentially stay with them throughout their life. These habits can achieve and maintain a healthy weight, preventing potentially life threatening diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and childhood obesity (Australian Medical Association, 2009).

What do you consider to be the teacher’s role in addressing and or preventing obesity?

Effective strategies and greater responsibility needs to be implemented from all parts of a society to encourage physical activity and healthy living in order to address and prevent the risk of obesity. Schools are one part of society that can adopt effective strategies to implement in classrooms. Further to this teachers are in a position to provide quality education about the benefits of healthy habits and physical activity throughout Middle Childhood. Teachers can significantly influence their students through their role modelling, attitudes and behaviours, such as demonstrating good eating habits and participation in physical activity. This can inspire children to make healthy choices and assist in developing valuable lifelong...
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