Obesity in the UK and the need to combat rising figures through participation in sport

Whether it’s a team sport like football or individual sport like badminton, people of all ages should be encouraged to participate in sports as it has a countless number of effects on both our physical and mental health.

Would you like to hear from a doctor that your child is overweight or obese? Well this might soon be the case because a survey carried out in 2016 showed that ‘One in ten children is obese by age 5’ and ‘One in 5 by the age of 11 is obese’. However, there are ways we can stop this, and it is outrageous how easy it is to combat. Even just by committing to ‘two or more sports teams per year adolescents are estimated to reduce the chance of becoming obese by 26%.’  Although teens are becoming more overweight the source of the problem lies within the older generations with ‘34% of 55-64-year-old being obese’ and ‘38% being overweight’. Therefore, we must also encourage adults to participate in sports as children look for role models within their parents and will naturally feel an urge to compete against those better than themselves. It is also acknowledged that children develop traits they have been taught from childhood so the simplest way to tackle childhood obesity is to introduce your children to the world of sport as early as possible.

Sports is also a great way for us to get introduced to new people and positively boost our communication skills as well as developing new relationships, whether it be with teammates, oppositions or coaches. We live in a society where instead of interacting with people, face to face, we meet through a screen in our pockets and would rather watch our phones that listen to friends and family. It all starts with teamwork as just in our schools and workplaces we cannot be successful without a joint effort. Sports can also be considered one of the few universal languages left as no matter your ethnicity, religion or the language that you speak, as soon as we are part of a team it is our job to bring out the best in everyone so our team can perform to the best of its ability. By doing this you make connections and bond with people from all walks of life.

 

Although sports can have huge impacts on our physical wellbeing it also plays a principle role in developing our mental health. In a nation where 85% of British people are regularly experiencing stress and anxiety it doesn’t seem right that the answer to all our problems is as simple as running around. There have been thousands of experiments and tests into these so called “theories” but ‘scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilise mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem’ all of which improve our lifestyle. Not to mention all the light-hearted pleasure we gain from spending an hour running around chasing a ball. It really is one of the best forms of entertainment.

 

The confidence we have in our ability can also prosper with the use of sports as when we find an activity that we thrive in and that we enjoy we are more likely to develop the necessary skill needed to flourish in our selected area of expertise. Yet this is not all as we can then transfer our knowledge from sports into our everyday lives. This is especially productive for students as studies show that those who participate in sports regularly received higher grades than those who didn’t. This is because research shows that participating in a mix of aerobic and muscle strengthening activities for only 30 minutes a week, yes only 30 minutes, can ‘increase concentration by up to 32%’. Science has also shown us that there are many more explanations for this but the main one is that all skills are transferrable to all sectors of our life. Determination, repetition, leadership, accountability, dedication. How many of these skills do you think can be applied to the classroom? Exactly! And the list of skills is endless, just one of the many reasons why sport participation should be further encouraged at all ages.

 

 

 

 

Some people may argue that an increase in sport participation may lead to a long road of injuries for young athletes, who are just starting out in the sport. This may hurt them physically and psychologically from which they may take years to recover. However, studies show that ‘76% of young athletes felt more determined when returning to sport from injuries’ as they feel they have more to prove and don’t want to let down those who influenced them to continue their passion for sport. They also commented on how they missed the thrill of competition, the fuel for humanity. You just need to look at history to appreciate all great things have come from either intraspecific or interspecific competition. Without it there is no certainty that we would be here today. In the way that species evolve and become more suited to their environment through competition it wouldn’t be right if we were denied that feeling of the rush of blood through your body as they stand at the start line and stare down their oppositions or that feeling you get when you know you have nothing left to give. Even perhaps disappointed with a second-place medal knowing you could’ve trained harder, pushed further, become greater.

In conclusion, I have proven that the benefits to participation in sport outnumber the negatives 10-fold and therefore there we should be doing everything in our power to encourage everyone from the baby boomers to the millennials to participate or even promote sport. Who knows maybe one day it might just save your life.