The national movement crisis: How schools can take action

The national movement crisis: How schools can take action

Research shows that young males (15-17 years) are three times more likely to engage in one hour of exercise each day compared to females of the same age.

A major contributing factor towards this substantial gap was young women feeling comfortable engaging in sports and wearing the female uniforms.

This is particularly important following the COVID-19 pandemic which showed children were 73% likely to meet moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity guidelines compared to pre-pandemic.

With physical activity proven to assist in academic achievement and cognition, finding alternative ways to get kids active has never been more critical.

To address this, Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) has launched a new health and fitness program developed in consultation with students who expressed their appetite for certain activity types through a school-wide survey.

The results found pilates, spin, yoga, general fitness, and group strength and conditioning were a major interest to young girls at MLC. Off the back of this, each of these classes is now on offer to MLC students.

“It is no secret, physical exercise will benefit young adolescent girls. However, the benefits go far beyond just a physical outlet. It’s about overcoming challenges and engraining long term habits,” Iain Beverley, Head of Athlete Development at MLC, said. 

“Setting young women up to succeed and making physical activity a part of their lives.”

Beverley said that while the College already had a fantastic uptake in its sporting offerings, it wanted to ensure it offered a range of physical activities that could meet the needs of students regardless of their skill level.

“We wanted to keep our students top of mind, really tapping into their wants and needs when developing this program. This is why we have created a range of classes that are student driven and research based, developed from student feedback gathered late last year,” he said.

“We found spin, yoga, pilates, group strength and conditioning, and general fitness were the most in demand amongst our students and we have seen a huge influx of participation.”

More than 350 students are participating per week in the program, which Beverley said has been “an amazing turnout”.

“Those students participating in spin class average between 10-15kms on the bike during a class, totalling to approximately 1,250kms per week across the board - enough to ride from Melbourne to the northern NSW coast town of Kempsey,” he said.

“Personally, I think it is important for students to be actively involved and engaged in their own fitness journey. However, it is equally important for schools to help provide the tools for them to do so.”