Current guidelines say that children should participate in at least 60 minutes vigorous physical activity each day however with the demands of the national curriculum and time needed to be given to other core subjects teachers’ timetables have been stretched and filled like never before.
To get more active minutes into the day many schools have started to develop their own version of a daily mile or continuous run. However running for a prolonged period of time can cause many children to disengage in physical activity instead of instilling a love of movement. As well as this, prolonged running will only develop one aspect of physical fitness- stamina and it has been proven that the health benefits to children are increased when children are participating in high intensity, fun physical activity compared to slow, low intensity exercise.
We see our job as not to get all children to love running but to get all children to love moving and being active.
We aim to make fitness fun by using high intensity games which focus on 5 key fitness components- strength, speed, agility, core strength and stamina..
We have devised a program of games and activities which involve very little resources and preparation for teachers designed to get children moving for 5 minutes. The increased variety of games and activities helps children maintain interest in fitness as well as giving them ideas to use at home and on the playground. By teaching children high intensity games which they enjoy they are more likely to have a positive relationship with physical activity and carry this into later life as opposed to performing the same exercise repetitively every day.
We have been conscious when developing our games to make them resource light so that teachers are able to play the games without adding too much to their already heavy workload.
To show impact of this approach we use 5 different fitness challenges to measure a baseline of fitness across the 5 key fitness components. These tests are carried out at 3 points throughout the year to show an improvement in the fitness of all children across all areas of fitness- not just stamina. These tests are easy to administer and require little or no equipment and resources.