Physical Activity is undeniably good for everyone, not only does it keep you fit and healthy but when started at a young age, it can set up good habits for life. Sometimes however, people do not take care of their physical wellbeing, resulting in obesity and other eating disorders which can be detrimental to their health.
Obesity is the condition of being seriously overweight. It is now considered a global health epidemic by the World Health Organization (2000) (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). Physical activity is important to children in the middle childhood age group because a staggering amount of children have become overweight in the last few decades and teachers play a role in preventing obesity by becoming a positive role model, teaching children about physical activity and the importance of nutrition, and understanding the way in which children develop and what their developmental needs are during those stages (McDevitt & Ormrod).
In middle childhood, approximately 40% of obese 7 year olds remain obese as adults, according to Epstein, Wing and Valoski (1985). Childhood Obesity is a major concern as it not only can have related social issues where children can get bullied, but can result in serious diseases in adult life such as Diabetes and heart conditions (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). It is because of these alarming facts and figures that it is even more important to instil the benefits of physical activity and eating habits in children.
During middle childhood (ages 6-10) there are many physical developmental changes happening within the child’s body. These include slowing but regular increases in weight and height and the fine tuning of gross motor skills that can then be used in more structured play activities.(McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010,). It is during these ages that most children learn to read and write and become more efficient in the use of skills such as competently using computer technology and applying rules to games. It is because of this high level of cognitive function that physical activity and nutrition are extremely important (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). They affect the child’s physical wellbeing in terms of energy levels, growth and the ability to concentrate (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010).
As children grow they continue to need physical activity. One of the methods of exercise that is popular with children in the middle childhood age is rough and tumble play or ‘play fighting’ (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). Unfortunately, this sort of play is often discouraged by schools because of the possibility that someone may become injured. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010). Teachers must find the balance between protecting children from getting hurt and allowing them to run and jump to release the copious amounts of energy that they have to burn (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010).
Another unfortunate hindrance to physical activity in schools is the notion that physical activity takes away from time that could be used for academic studies. This is...