Outdoor gym specialist urges schools to make fitness inclusive to tackle obesity epidemic

With recent figures showing more than 30 per cent of Year 6 primary pupils are obese - particularly in deprived areas - outdoor gym equipment specialist, Sunshine Gym is urging schools and local authorities to do more to help children keep active.

Data from the Government’s National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) shows 10.1% of reception children are currently obese, while 23.4% of children preparing to leave primary school in Year 6 are obese, rising to 31.3% in the most deprived areas.

The Government says the NCMP is a key element of its approach to tackling child obesity, feeding into policy and decision-making, but urgent action is needed to help stem the problem.

The NHS advises children should have at least 60 minutes of exercise each day. However, with primary school PE classes typically limited to once a week, education authorities are being urged to ensure pupils have access to fitness throughout the school week, allowing them to maximise activity during breaktimes.

Sunshine Gym, a leading designer, supplier and installer of outdoor gym equipment in the UK and a division of Broxap, is driving an inclusive approach to fitness in primary schools so it appeals to all pupils, not just those who enjoy team sports, encouraging more children to get active and build good habits that last a lifetime.

Divisional manager at Sunshine Gym, Daniel Goddard said: “As educators, it’s important to focus on the long-term benefits and impacts exercise can bring. Just as literacy lessons aim to inspire a love of reading for life, the PE curriculum should be designed to facilitate healthy living, that will stay with pupils beyond their school days.

“There’s not a magic solution to immediately turn around the NHS data, but outdoor gyms in primary schools encourage better activity habits at an influential age. An outdoor gym, designed properly, can get even the most disengaged students outside and moving more by bringing variety to sport and activity in primary schools.

“It helps as many children as possible feel the benefit of being active. Every user should be working to their own speed and pace independently of others – no pressure, no intimidation.”

Equipment such as outdoor gyms in schools and playing fields give year-round access to fitness facilities at no cost to families, helping to put in place the foundations to tackle the problem of childhood obesity.

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