It is so important to get and keep fit, even at a young age. It’s especially important to me. I discovered exercise when I was encouraged by a teacher at school. For me, exercise gave me a focus. I have some physical challenges and I spent time trying to work out what exercise was right for me.
Physical activity is part of our human rights. The UN is clear that physical activities, like sport and exercise, as well as other enjoyable hobbies, are essential for good physical and mental health. It can help us gain confidence and gives us opportunities to be social.
All children and young people should be supported to be active in a way that suits their bodies. This year the UK’s Chief Medical Officers joined together to publish guidelines to support physical activity for disabled children and young people. Disabled children and young people should have the same access to opportunities to be physically active and to sports as all children.
Science Daily reported that a study in The Lancet of 1.2 million people found that those who exercise have 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month, compared to people who don’t exercise. The study said that team sports, cycling, aerobics, and going to the gym were associated with the biggest reductions, but all movement counts. I think it’s important to find an activity that you enjoy.
How to get started
The NHS says ‘Children and young people aged five to 18 should aim for an average of at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity physical activity a day across the week’. Guidelines for disabled children and young people recommend two to three hours a week, which can be broken down to 20 minutes over each day. So what is a moderate activity? Examples include walking to school or walking the dog, playground activities, running, and sports and modified sports like football, tennis etc. I could go on and on! There are so many different ways you can move. You just need to get started. There are lots of benefits and exercise might even reduce the likelihood of getting certain medical conditions like diabetes, dementia, and depression when you’re older.
Your right to health
We should be supported to do activities that help our health. Article 24 of the UNCRC says children have the right to the best possible health and that includes being given information about being healthy.
Personally, I go to the gym but this can be expensive. Councils can offer subsidised gym activities compared to private companies and the equipment is just as good. However, you can exercise at home for free. Body weight exercises or going for a jog does just as good a job and it means you can exercise whenever you want for free, out in the fresh air or in your own home. It also means you no complicated or expensive contracts and you can be creative in what to use as makeshift weights, like lifting a sibling!
It’s also important to do stretching. My sister often uses free YouTube yoga videos to prepare her body for more intense exercise and there’s tons to choose from.
It’s so important to move our bodies to keep them strong, fit, and healthy. It’s not just the physical benefit of exercise that I enjoy. I always feel great inside after completing a good workout.