Community nurse Lydia Norton on the need to stay active at school

Posted 18th December 2015

A newly qualified nurse in her first role since graduating from Southampton University, Lydia Norton has seen first-hand how a poor lifestyle and a lack of physical activity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, regardless of a person’s age or background. With a recent NHS study revealing that one in four British adults is now obese – more than anywhere else in Europe – it’s more important than ever to ensure that the necessary lessons are learned and passed on to the next generation. Lydia talks here about all things health regarding school sport.

We all know that a high percentage of people in this country struggle to lead a healthy lifestyle and, ultimately, I believe that this comes down to a lack of knowledge about the dangers of eating poorly and not exercising. And sadly, once a person is set in those kinds of habits, it’s virtually impossible to correct those behavioural patterns and concentrate on implementing a new lifestyle plan.

These fundamentals of human life need to become natural from a very young age, with school being the obvious platform to ensure that these youngsters are doing the recommended minimum of thirty minutes exercise a day. This will improve the health of their heart, help with the development of their muscles and bone density, and give them a much greater sense of psychological wellbeing.

Schools need to promote sport as being something fun which can be enjoyed by everyone, because in today’s technologically dominated world, it’s proving harder than ever to convince a young person to put down that mobile phone or leave their computer alone and go and play outside.

It’s a difficult balance to put in place, because sport also needs to have that competitive edge, something which encourages people to keep trying and improving – but if it can be done in such a way where the children appreciate the benefits of taking part and interacting with other people their age, as well as the feeling of success, then that is the ideal.

Furthermore, there needs to be more of a focus on the benefits of a balanced diet and how the moderation of bad foods, alongside exercise, can ensure that a young person grows up to be a healthy adult. You won’t get through to a child by just telling them not to do something; they need to be able to understand these things for themselves – to be shown the pros and cons of the situation and allowed to make up their own mind.

I’m not necessarily the most sporting person. I had a very mixed experience with school sport, which I can’t ever remember particularly enjoying until I moved to Kuwait for secondary school – where there was much more of an emphasis placed upon participation amongst a variety of different sports, which allowed everyone to find something they were good at. It’s only as I’ve got older that I’ve realised the need to exercise more and lead a healthy lifestyle.

My message to young people would be to make sure that you don’t miss out. You need to embrace and enjoy sports as soon as possible, because its great fun exercising with others and you will only ever feel better when you have run around, formed friendships and created a better lifestyle for yourself in the process. Remember, sport releases endorphins, which are effectively happiness hormones.

Sport will help you in every aspect of your life – it should be something you look forward to, something that you use to break up your day, and something you use – most importantly – in order to have fun and enjoy yourself. 

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