School out to shake up pupils in bid to beat obesity

15/07/15  PM''Children at Wimborne School in Portsmouth are being encouraged to do a series of 10 minute shake up excercises durng the school today to help them keep fit. (left to right), Finley Rogers (nine), and Mason Butcher both nine on the space hoppers.'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (151207-6) PPP-150719-133556006
15/07/15 PM''Children at Wimborne School in Portsmouth are being encouraged to do a series of 10 minute shake up excercises durng the school today to help them keep fit. (left to right), Finley Rogers (nine), and Mason Butcher both nine on the space hoppers.'Picture Ian Hargreaves (151207-6) PPP-150719-133556006
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School playgrounds are always a hive of activity – whether that’s children playing tag, football, hopscotch or just running around, there’s always something going on.

But there might be pockets of young people who only do exercise at school and others who do none in the playground or away from it.

Latest figures show one in 10 (9.9 per cent) of reception-age children in Portsmouth are classed as overweight.

Worryingly, this increases to one in five (20 per cent) by the time children are leaving primary school and about to join secondary school.

One school is determined to reverse this trend and has introduced NHS-led exercise activities to get children moving.

Wimborne Junior School in Wimborne Road, Southsea, has brought in a programme called the 10-Minute Shake Ups.

Led by the Department of Health, and in partnership with Disney, the idea is to break up 60 minutes of activities into 10-minute chunks that can be done throughout the day.

Exercises are broken up into fun tasks and require no equipment to be completed, but people can add things should they wish to.

Chantelle Knight is a learning, emotional and literacy support assistant at the school, and has spearheaded the school taking up the free initiative.

She says: ‘I want children to be able to embrace the idea of exercise and enjoy doing it.

‘Two years ago we introduced the Change4Life, so each day at lunchtime there are different activities going on in different parts of the playground for children to get involved in.

‘The activities are delivered by Year 5 and Year 6 pupils, so it’s done by the pupils for the pupils and helps them feel rewarded 
by the exercise they are doing.

‘I feel so fortunate our school has been able to build on it as much as it has and that we have got a lot of equipment to do it.

‘The good thing about this project is you don’t need equipment – particularly for the 10-Minute Shake Ups, which we introduced last month.

‘The idea is children are becoming more and more active through choice, they are linking it to things they know, and they don’t realise they are burning calories, moving around, keeping healthy, and keeping it and exercising along the way.’

One of the activities children can do is related to the Disney film Cars.

It involves children making a car out of paper and then making a finish line further along from rolled-up T-shirts.

Then from the start line children get on their hands and knees to blow the car along to the finish line.

They are encouraged to time themselves and see if they can beat their own record within 10 minutes.

Other Disney films include Toy Story, The Incredibles, Frozen and Monsters Inc.

Chantelle adds: ‘Andy’s Room Tidy-Up is a great activity to do at school and also at home.

‘It’s about having items scattered across the floor, and then as quickly as you can putting things away.

‘When presented in a fun way and something children can relate to, then kids love to take part in it.

‘And because it’s a short burst of activity, you don’t realise how much you are moving around and that slowly all that builds up into exercise.’

The programme has been backed by Portsmouth’s director of public health Dr Janet Maxwell.

She says: ‘Children need to run around and be active for at least an hour every day to be healthy.

‘The 10-Minute Shake Ups are fun ways to help them get active this summer through short, manageable chunks.

‘Parents simply need to search Change4life online to register their child for a free pack. They can also use the activity finder on the Change4Life site to find children’s activities in Portsmouth over the summer.’

It’s not just Portsmouth that sees its obesity figures double during primary education.

In Gosport, 10 per cent of reception-aged children were classed as obese in 2013/2014, which rose to 21.7 per cent for Year 6 students.

The figures come from the National Child Measurement Programme and is worked out by taking a child’s height and weight measurement, known as the body mass index.

In Fareham six per cent of reception children are obese, which rises to 14.7 per cent in Year 6.

And in Havant 11 per cent of reception children are placed into the heaviest weight range, going up to 18 per cent in Year 6.

The NHS says only 26 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls nationally meet its recommended 60 minutes of activity each day.

Dr Maxwell adds: ‘While Portsmouth is similar to the national average for obesity in children, the statistics remain a cause for concern – especially the significant increase in obesity between when children start and leave junior school.

‘As children’s weight has been gradually creeping up it’s becoming harder for many parents to identify what healthy weight looks like.

‘Tackling obesity from this age is key though in preventing health problems in later life.

‘We’ll be looking to work with schools and families to improve access to healthy food for children and encouraging them to be more active, including looking at how to make it easier and safer for them to walk, cycle or scoot to school.’

To find out more visit nhs.uk/10-minute-shake-up