We are facing a major problem in schools too.
Despite the fact that office workplaces have undergone massive development in recent decades, the situation in schools is frequently still as it was in the 1970s. Naturally, a beneficial working environment is as important for children as for adults. Technical aids, less PE lessons and less leisure-time activities have made children less active. However, using computers or tablets does not mean having to sit down.
Why is sitting down so bad?
There are many reasons why sitting down is bad. One reason is that LPL (Lipo Protein Lipase), an enzyme which plays an important role in metabolism, becomes inactive. LPL’s function is to facilitate the transport of fatty acids inside the cells throughout the body, in the muscles and the heart tissue to mention a few. When sitting down, LPL is inactive, which leads to fat being stored in fatty tissue instead of being burned up as energy in the muscles.
The WHO’s recommendations for physical activity for children aged 5 – 17:
Children and young people aged 5-17 should devote at least 60 minutes a day to physical activity of moderate to high intensity. Physical activity includes play, games, sport, transport, chores, recreation, athletics or other planned exercise, within the framework of the family, school and social activities. More than 60 minutes delivers additional health benefits. The bulk of the daily physical activity should be movement of moderate intensity. High intensity training should be incorporated (including that which strengthens muscles and bones), on at least 3 occasions per week.
How active are children and young people?
Here are some examples: Studies in Sweden show that only 30% of 4 year olds reach the recommended amount of physical activity on weekdays and only 20% of 4 year olds reach the recommended amount of physical activity at weekends (see table). Moreover, only one in eight 13 year olds move sufficiently every day. Surveys have also revealed that only 50% of school sports constitute ”active” time, the rest is sedentary reviews and theory.
But physical activity does not just need to be sport.
An active work environment produces more alert pupils who can concentrate more easily and have more desire to learn. By giving children the opportunity to stand up and work, we are creating a natural element of activity in the classroom. It has been demonstrated that just 10 minutes of activity per hour counteracts the negative effects of sitting down.