Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. Walking, gardening, sports activities, climbing the stairs, or dancing are all good examples of being active. For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous intensity. Physical activity encompasses all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity. This integrated activity may not be planned, structured, repetitive or purposeful for the improvement of fitness, and may include activities such as walking to the local shop, cleaning, working, active transport etc. Lack of physical activity is associated with a range of negative health outcomes whereas increased physical activity can improve physical as well as mental health. Physical activity increases energy expenditure and is a key regulator in controlling body weight.Sport and physical activity bring about various changes in the brain which are otherwise achieved only through drugs. Similar to sport and physical activity, drugs for treatment of depressions act on the brain’s capacity to absorb serotonin. They strengthen the epinephrine activity and ensure the release of various factors for nerve growth. These factors promote cell growth in the brain and prevent the death of cells in the hippocampus which is otherwise caused by depression. Together with these changes, sport and physical activity also lead to a reduced activity of the stress hormone cortisol and therefore have an effect similar to psychotropic drugs. According to the status of research so far, regularly engaging in sports activities seems to be an effective remedy for reducing symptoms of depression. It is also cost-effective and has very few side effects. However, it still has to be examined whether and above all to which extent sport and physical activity can be a complement or even an alternative to medication for slight depressions. People have played sports since ancient days. Over time, many different kinds of sports have evolved, such as individual sports, team sports, informally organized sports, Extreme sports and highly organized and elite sports. These different kinds of sports can have a positive effect on individuals and societies in many different ways.
Creating a sporting habit for life
Youth insights – summary: A high proportion of young people regularly take part in sport but participation is not yet growing above its historic norm. This is a summary of our new insight into young people and the actions we believe are required if, as a sector, we are to broaden our reach with this key audience and grow participation levels:
1. The context and environment in which young people have grown up is different to previous generations – Some change in delivery is required just to maintain levels of interest in sport amongst each new generation. Technology is an integral part of young people’s lives; they do not separate online and offline activities. Sporting activities need to reflect this.
2. Behaviour of young people does not always reflect their attitude to sport – we need to focus on changing behaviours not attitudes– Many young people feel positive about sport but aren’t necessarily looking to take part; for them, sport and physical activity needs to be more visible and accessible, with stronger reminders of their positive associations– Other young people are uninterested in sport but find wider reasons to take part. Promoting the benefits they are looking for is more effective; selling sport as fun does not resonate with them
3. For many, there is a shift in teenage years towards taking part for more functional or lifestyle reasons– Motivations change as young people grow up, with health, fitness and looking and feeling good becoming more important. The shift towards fitness-related activities is occurring at an earlier age than previously. We need to keep engaging and providing feedback to young people, particularly girls, on what actually matters to them not what matters to sport
4. Don’t underestimate passive participation– Playing sport is a passive act for many young people who are carried along by what their friends/family are doing or what’s happening in their educational setting. As they grow up more proactive choices are required. Sport therefore has to compete or connect to other interests and priorities
5. leveling the playing field can help to overcome the emotional baggage of sport– Young people with negative associations, driven by previous experiences and a perceived lack of competence, are more likely to have a narrower definition of sport focused on traditional, competitive activities. New or unusual sports or different positioning can provide more of a level playing field. Whilst the activity can be sport, the message that sells it doesn’t have to be
6. Young people are seeking meaningful experiences– There needs to be reasons for young people to keep coming back to make sport a habit which benefits them as an individual, reinforces their place in their social group or helps them develop themselves
7. The supply of sport tends to reach those who are already engaged– There is a need for a broader offer which meets more diverse needs to break the norms of sport participation
8. From insight to action– We have developed design principles for the type of experience different groups of young people are looking for. Interventions and programmes should be tested against these ‘must-haves’ principles.
If we are active, not only are we likely to reduce body fat, but reduce our risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and some cancers. Our overall mental health and wellbeing is also likely to improve.
The sedentary nature of our lifestyle can also lead to poorer health outcomes. Many of us are sitting or lying down for long periods such as spending time in front of a computer at work or driving to work or school or pressing keypads of our cell phones. Also, a lot of our downtime is spent on electronic devices scrolling through social media, bingeing on our favourite programs or playing games. We need to reduce our time of engagement in all such activities and spend some of our daily time by engaging in some physical activities…
( The author a teacher at J&K School Education Department is presently posted at Govt High School Brakpora Anantnag.Views are his own)