4 out of 5 children and young people move a little
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children and young people exercise for at least one hour a day. It is worrying that 80% of this age group in Germany does not meet this.
Lack of exercise has become noticeably worse during the Corona crisis: A recent study by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) showed that children aged four and five exercised an average of 189 minutes a day before the pandemic – that’s about 3 hours. During lockdown, daily exercise shrank to 63 minutes, just one hour a day.
German clubs are also complaining about a wave of withdrawals during the Corona pandemic. For example, DOSB, the umbrella organization for German sports, had a million fewer members. In particular, there were no new registrations. This is a major concern for the youth and the future of the clubs.
The movement promotes the development of children and youth
Sport is healthy. This should be more widely known by now. However, adequate exercise is critical, especially for teens. This was confirmed by Professor Christoph Breuer, an expert in mathematical economics at the Mathematical University of Cologne. On the other hand, it means fun and balance in the busy everyday life. In addition, sports and exercise are essential for motor and cognitive development.
higher faster? Best performance is not everything in school sports
In connection with these alarming scientific findings, there is an urgent need for new ideas and concepts to move the younger generation. At the same time, according to Christoph Breuer, one should not attribute the lack of exercise in Germany exclusively to the apparent lack of motivation among children and young adults. They still have a great desire and need to exercise in their spare time. However, what is most decisive is the pedagogical design of school sports and clubs. The classical principle of performance still prevailed here, but the needs of children were often neglected: the faster, the higher, the better.
It is very normal for children and young adults to compare themselves to each other, but the struggle to perform at their best becomes problematic when there is an unequal opportunity. This was confirmed by Professor Sebastian Roen, teacher of movement and sports at the University of Graz. This is not often the case, especially in physical education: while kids who are active in a club in their spare time can easily earn an A, others may never have done their handstand.
Unequal circumstances often lead to feelings of shame and fear of failure. Deprived children may have developed a general aversion to physical activity. That’s why more and more experts are calling for more kid-friendly training that focuses on the fun of exercise, not performance.
Soccer training in small groups: kick more, score more goals, have more fun
Also in football – which remains the most popular sport among boys and girls in Germany – the focus is once again on the needs of the young. Marcus Herti, the sporting director of talent promotion at the German Football Association, is particularly committed to this. He wants to reform the training: the children do not belong to the sidelines, eagerly waiting to be finally replaced, but on the football field. They want to play, they want to score goals. That’s why it’s time to redesign old coaching concepts: if you replace the two big goals with small goals and instead let several small teams play against each other, you end up giving the kids the opportunity to kick more than once and score and get a sense of accomplishment.
Dumbbells and protein shakes in gym fitness – everything for the upper body
However, the situation is different in physique. It seems that only the end result counts here: a beautiful athletic body. This should be achieved as quickly as possible through intense training and additional consumption of protein shakes and boosters of all kinds. Often in order to show the results of training, this is how Sebastian Rowen describes it. Biceps photos and workout videos can now be found in abundance on Instagram or Youtube. The hype around fitness on social media is being driven by so-called sports influencers, who inspire hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers with their perfectly trained and toned bodies.
Skinny girls, muscular boys – serious picture perfect?
Teens are already emulating these fitness stars. They usually expect social recognition for a fit body and healthy lifestyle. Sebastian Rowen sees a growing danger to the youngsters here. Self-imposed fitness and nutrition plans can quickly drift into false ambition and a distorted self-perception.
Parents, Educators, and Coaches: Transferring the Joy of Exercise Instead of the Stress of Performance
Sebastian Rouen invites schools, as well as sports clubs, to take a critical look at this development. Whether it’s at school, club or competitive sport – adults shape the daily physical activity of children and young adults, role models and those close to them. It is important that teachers, coaches and parents recognize this important role and do not abuse it – for example if they put too much pressure on teens to perform. In this way, they can contribute to young people getting enough exercise and their healthy development.
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