( By Kiran Sawhney )

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Fitness Mantras in Schools

Gone are the days when young children of schools would indulge more in outdoor games and activities. Every Sunday would be spent playing cricket outdoors in scorching heat of sun. Today we seldom see our young children even playing a board game indoors. They play chess and even cricket on the computer. Their hours are spent sitting in front of the idiot box or playing computer games. Our young generation is leading sedentary lifestyle and eating junk food. They have so much of study pressure that they barely manage to get up & take a stroll.

Very young children are prone to health hazards which were quite uncommon ten years back. They have eyesight, back and knee problems, depressions, anxiety, and to top it all obesity. This is why now more and more schools are getting health and fitness conscious all over India. Fitness experts are being hired by the schools and colleges. Most interesting things are happening in fitness in St. Thomas school, New Delhi. Children are learning bhangra aerobics & dandiya aerobics. They have a great time doing these. They are getting fitter & having a ball of a time.

In G.D. Goenka School in Delhi, Sports is one of the most important school activities. Facilities for indoor and most outdoor games have been provided. Junior school has a separate playground with slides, swings, ladders and other park equipment. The school owns five horses in order to encourage horse riding amongst young students. A variety of sports and fitness classes are held to ensure physical fitness. These include swimming, yoga, aerobics, karate and taekwondo. The school also conducts Postural diagnosis and rectification of defects. The school is also equipped with state of art gym. Similarly Modern school in Vasant Vihar has provided its students with a gym.

In another school, Ramjas, in Delhi, physical fitness and sports is greatly emphasized in the school curriculum. Basketball courts, football grounds and the field, lend itself for training in these areas. Besides a comprehensive gymnastics program along with yoga, karate and taekwando ensure the all round development of a child. The well equipped gymnasium encourages both students and the staff to spend sometime on exercising everyday. Adventure activities are part of the school program. Students are trained in the areas of rock climbing, trekking, mountaineering and Para-gliding. Regular jungle camps ('Vanshalas') are held for both juniors and seniors. Sadhu Vaswani school for girls in Delhi has made activity day for their students. It is mandatory for them to choose between, aerobics, yoga, basketball or martial arts training. They have hired professionals for training their students

We have a paradoxical situation in society presently. On one hand we have teenagers who famish themselves to get a perfect hour glass figure like Britney Spears, whom they idolize. In return, they end up achieving an anorexic look with dark circles under their eyes & many eating disorders. At the same time, there are others who cannot resist a packet of chips & a burger from their favorite fast food joint. The need of the day is to promote Fitness- Healthy mind in Healthy body. And this is where schools play a vital role.

Talking about Bangalore, Military school offers training in various sports like boxing, swimming, lawn tennis, table tennis, athletics, volleyball, basketball, football, hockey, cricket, badminton and also has a well equipped gymnasium. Under the NCC units, annual training camps are held which serve to instill the values of discipline, confidence and perseverance in the students. The training routine of the cadets is hectic and nerve-racking. The cadets also enjoy various adventure sports like bungee jumping, river water rafting, rock climbing etc.

In Meridian school in Hyderabad, children are taught the therapeutic effects of regular exercise. The school has a mini health club with facilities to train in aerobics and gymnastics. And in another school, Slate, again in Hyderabad, extra-curricular activities is a major focus for the school. There are arrangements made by the school for physical education, which includes indoor and outdoor games and sports along with other fitness lessons. Although the school has its own PE teachers, special coaches and instructors are called in as and when needed.

Mr. Gautam, soccer coach in G.D.Goenka school is very experienced teacher. Not only has he prepared one of the best soccer team but his practice sessions include overall fitness. He is a firm believer of the fact that a fit child is also a better player. His practice sessions include proper warm ups, cool down, jogging, push ups, strength and flexibility training. No wonder then that he is a very sought after coach & children throng to be in his team. They donít mind staying back after school time or his grinding practice sessions.

Countrywide there is an increase in awareness about fitness. Schools are switching to healthier regimes, which would not only make our next generation physically fit but also mentally alert. This would also enhance their performance in studies and other sports activities and would ensure that they have more concentration, are more relaxed and focused. And last but not the least ready to take on the challenges of life. After all isnít it truly said that Health is Wealth.

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