The recent publication of shocking new NHS statistics showing that nearly a quarter of children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school has focused concern on the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of young children. In Islington, London, more than 40% of children participate in less than the recommended 3 hours of high quality PE and out of school sport whilst more than 38% of 11 year old children are overweight or obese. This situation is replicated in many other parts of the UK.
As a result, the debate on how we can tackle this problem is set to continue, prompting calls for renewed government action. However parents are also seeking more ways in which they can help their children to stay fit and healthy, both as a family participating together in sport and exercise as well as through specially designed children’s fitness programmes. Finding physical activities that small children can do as well, or better, than grown-ups is difficult. However the yoga world has come up with the solution – family yoga!
YogaBugs North & East London has teamed up with Aquaterra, a charity working for the health and wellbeing of the whole community to deliver family yoga classes. Glenn Branch, manager of Aquaterra’s Highbury Pool and Leisure Centre, explains why:
“We want to encourage parents and young children in Islington to join in the new family yoga classes at Highbury. The children really enjoy channeling their energy in to the yoga and parents get a work-out too. The classes are great for developing flexibility, agility and stamina.”
Denyse Whillier from YogaBugs North & East London added:
“Children’s natural flexibility and energy mean that they can do yoga postures that many adults can only dream about! The CBeebies programme, Waybaloo, has got pre-school children doing yoga. Breathing and warm up techniques help children and parents to clear their minds and focus whilst the posture work strengthens and tones their bodies. Postures such as Lion help children to let off steam, whilst Downward Facing Dog energises parents by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Everybody benefits.”
Aquaterra manages six public leisure facilities in Islington and seven in Bath & North East Somerset in partnership with the two local authorities. For information about the classes call Aquaterra on 020 7690 0413 or email Denyse Whillier on firstname.lastname@example.org.