Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds has reminded people that exercise remains more important now than it ever has been, as he urged people to keep going despite the difficulties of lockdown, darker evenings and winter weather.
Mr Hinds, a Catholic, noted that while heavy rainfall, snow and recent storms have disrupted many people’s plans for a run, they must ensure that they get their daily exercise.
‘Unlike the first lockdown last March, with its exceptional dry and sunny weather, the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some exercise in recent weeks has been difficult,’ he wrote in The Petersfield Post.
‘And with grassroot sports clubs and groups not able to operate, leisure centres and pools closed, outdoor sport courts and courses shut, and most not at school, there is a risk that the amount of exercise we are taking is far below what it should be, particularly for children.’
Citing the latest Actives Lives Children and Young People Survey published recently by Sport England, Mr Hinds said only 44 per cent met the guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more a day, a fall on the previous year.
‘There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a big impact on children and young people’s engagement in sport and physical activity, as it has also for many adults. Despite an increase in both walking and cycling, the longer term effect on other sporting activities could be marked – the lack of access to organised activities can quickly lead to a drop off in motivation and confidence – both of which are an important part in getting people involved in sports,’ he wrote.
Suggesting taking part in online sessions, such as Joe Wicks’s PE lessons or online zoom exercise groups, Mr Hinds stressed how important encouragement is.
He also noted that enabling children to access the right amount of daily activity is important for both physical and mental wellbeing and helps them develop important skills like teamwork and tenacity.
‘It’s particularly hard at the moment when there’s so much we can’t do, and cold weather and dark evenings too – but taking that first step is often the hardest bit of all.’
Picture: Youngsters practice their football skills. (Matimix).