Where is sport going at school age?
It is curious how in the present society, sport presents two opposite tendencies. On the one hand, there is an increase in people who adopt healthy lifestyles with a high rate of physical activity and sport and, in general, an active life. There is a tendency in the growth of the offer of sport services in school-age as well as a wide variety of sports activities of health and leisure as of competition. This offer extends to sports and recreational activities for the whole family. Currently, the sports practice index in the school population is 63% in Spain according to the survey of sports habits in the CSD school population. In contrast, sedentary and childhood obesity data are worrisome with rates of 23.2% overweight and 18.1% of childhood obesity among children aged 6 and 9, according to the Aladino 2015 study.
Programs and actions to change this reality are key to achieving a healthy citizenship today and in the long term. Habits for a healthy life are acquired in the school stage; if these habits are internalized, they will accompany us throughout our lives. Promoting an active life is essential, not only in everyday activities but also with the practice of sports physical activity. Although physical education is carried out within the school program, but this is not enough, it is advisable to practice sports activities outside of school hours as well as the practice of active activities with the family on weekends or holidays, being the family model one of the aspects that most influence the acquisition of habits at these ages.
Upon reaching adolescence there is an important abandonment of sports, especially among women, being a critical stage in which we have to focus.
Changes in priorities in relation to academic studies, greater autonomy and greater accessibility to new technologies, access to a new leisure offer, etc., are some of the reasons for this abandonment. Sometimes the sport configuration itself is a barrier to its continuity, presenting a high degree of involvement at a competitive level or with few flexible offers. It is necessary to continue working to offer alternatives to adolescents and young people for the realization of physical activity and sport, with more open and flexible programs than conventional sport. The role of sport at this stage goes beyond physical health, playing an important role in preventing bad habits and social relationships.
Knowing more deeply, how both children and young people live the sport is important to make the best possible offer. It is interesting this study ‘Children and Young people worries in sport’ in which the main concerns of children and young people in sport are identified.
In order to create effective programs, it is necessary to know the current situation and identify possible trends. For this, studies of sports habits and/or surveys of the school population are essential to configure the photograph of reality. Its preparation has to meticulously planned, with clear objectives, how the data will be collected and possible difficulties and deviations, how the data will be analysed and for what purpose, a questionnaire design according to the characteristics of each age, etc. Its design, implementation and analysis is not an easy task, but doing its best is essential for good diagnosis of reality and the design of action strategies.
The concretion and implementation of strategies and programs also require a careful process of reflection and work to reach the expected results. Having monitoring and evaluation tools allows us to make improvements to ensure that our citizens, from very young, have healthy physical activity and sport habits.