The importance of physical activity cannot be undermined even if modern academics become more demanding. Under no circumstances, there should be a lack of physical activity as it can have drastic effects on the well-being of children.
During a webinar conducted by ScooNews, Parveen Raju, Founder of the Suchitra Academy, and P.V. Sindhu, Olympic Badminton Champion, gave an insight into the ‘Importance of Sports and Fitness in Wellness’ to 3000+ educators listening to them Live from all over India.
Praveen Raju starts the conversation with the thought that wellness includes both physical and mental health and equal emphasis should be put on both the fronts. However, with the advent of device addiction, physical activity among children has decreased significantly.
Obesity is another concern that is a direct result of a lack of physical activity among children.
Raju shares the statistics from an IHME report that shows how cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer are the leading cause of death around the globe. These diseases are directly linked to one’s lifestyle and a lack of physical activity.
He shows concern on how working parents often leave their children with devices as they can’t find time to spend with them. This can lead to major mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. According to WHO, depression is the most common cause of death among youth and by 2030, it will be the leading burden disease for all age groups.
Putting emphasis on the responsibility of educators in mitigating this challenge, he shares, “The pressure from parents and schools disables a child to spend the necessary time in physical activities. Our schools need to put more stress on outdoor and sports activities as researches show that these activities also boost academic success. Take P.V. Sindhu, for example. She could not find the time to study and yet scored 60 to 70 percent marks as her physical fitness enhanced her cognitive abilities.”
He recommends having a structured sports curriculum with proper measurements of benchmarks to check enhanced performance. “I believe that school facilities should be properly used for after-school activities as the infrastructure only gets wasted,” he adds.
The last recommendation he has for schools is to have a proper social-emotional learning curriculum for the overall development of the child.
Story of Suchitra Badminton Academy
Addressing the educators, Raju next shares the story of Suchitra Badminton Academy whose foundation he laid with the vision of making on the best academies not only in India but on an international level.
He informs how he faced bureaucratic barriers during his initial days but never doubted his vision and used these hurdles as stepping stones.
The journey of the academy began with 4 athletes and today, they have a team of 15 coaches, 5 physical trainers, 3 physios state of the art gym, video analysis, 7 international standard badminton courts and other modern training facilities to cater both national and international students.
Suchitra Academy takes pride in being the only high-performance badminton center that runs without any government support. It also serves as a training hub for IPL players and tennis players.
One the ending note, Raju talks about P.V. Sindhu and applauds her father, who constantly supported her during the journey.
Today, Suchitra Academy helps P.V. Sindhu with fitness training and planning, game corrections and strategy.
P.V. Sindhu begins her talk by promoting the views of Raju about the importance of physical activities that directly affects one’s mental health. Like him, she also upholds the importance of social and emotional education in making individuals tough and contribute to the well-being of society.
She raises concerns about the WHO report on depression strengthening its roots in Indian society and how physical fitness can ultimately lead to a healthy mind. “In badminton, there is no major difference between the top ten players in terms of skills and fitness and so, it’s our mental capabilities that make the difference,” she says.
Below are some questions the educators popped in front of the duo to get their share of virtual counseling directly from the mavens of the field.
How can one stay fit during the lockdown? What are you doing to stay fit?
P V Sindhu: We need to be very positive and understand that maintaining social distances is good for us at the moment. For me, it’s an opportunity to spend time with my family after many years. I’m exercising at home every day and enjoying the new routine. Apart from this, I’m cooking and trying my hands at new crafts to keep myself busy and mind working.
What is the right age to get into formal training?
P V Sindhu: It is important to know the child's interest and understand which sport interests them. There is no such thing as the right age. A lot of players have revealed that they began playing around the age of six. But, mind it, the sport should be in sync with their age. Plus, you cannot expect a child to practice 6 hours a day. The most important aspect is they should enjoy what they are doing.
Which activities promote mental health?
P V Sindhu: In sports, you either win or lose. With many ups and downs, your mental health occasionally goes for a toss. I, for one, have been doing meditation for more than a year to keep myself calm during such crisis. For me, it’s not about winning or losing but living the situation and going with the flow. Doing meditation for about an hour is something I’d recommend.
Praveen Raju: In our school, we have quality circle time wherein we spend half an hour to 40 min every week with children and talk about diverse topics, nothing related to academics. At that point, teachers can notice children and their mental conditions so that really helps. I would also recommend 5 minutes of silence for every school child in a day. It will go a long way to keep them mentally healthy.
What advice would you give to a child who has been playing badminton for a year now and wants to pursue it as a career?
P V Sindhu: It solely depends on the child who wants to continue and take it as a profession. You need to be sure that if you want to actually do it or not. It is not a few days or months that will make you a champion or world’s no.1. You need to understand that it’s years of hard work with many ups and downs. You might keep losing and you still need to understand that there is always a next time which you need to keep working towards. Also, parents support is important. Especially when the kids are upset that is when you need to encourage them the most.
What is the importance of parents in their kid’s sports life?
P V Sindhu: In my life, the parents’ support has been really big. Being Volleyball players themselves, they understood what sportsmanship actually is. Doesn't matter which sport, it's all the same thing when it comes to an international sportsperson. Even though you would have coaches but your folks’ little efforts take you a long way. Believe it or not, when my parents watch my matches as an audience and tell me what wrong or right I am doing, it clears my perspective.
How do schools get their sporting curriculum going for contact sports like football at a time when we’re practising social-distancing?
Praveen Raju: The way the virus is spreading today, even sitting in the classroom is a challenge than going out on the ground to play. So, this is a difficult thing to talk about as of now.
P V Sindhu: Everybody keeps asking me if I regret that the Olympic got postponed. I think talking about such things is useless because no one predicted this was going to happen. But now that it has, the important thing is life comes first before anything else. Right now, the right way is to sit at home and be safe.
Share ways in which a budding sportsperson can stay fit.
Praveen Raju: I want to advise budding athletes that even if you are engrossed in one sport, you should also dabble into other games. Muscular development of different sports is different and hence this practice can help in the overall development of your body.
P V Sindhu: It can be anything like gymnastics that promotes stretching. Playing other sports for fun really helps you in your own choice of sport where you want to put more focus.
What do you want to say to the kids who want to pursue careers in sports and their parents?
P V Sindhu: When I started playing, I never imagined I would become an Olympic champion. Once I became one, people kept asking what’s next. Please remember that it's not a quick journey where results are easily visible. You might fall a lot of times and it will take years of hard work, dedication, belief and practice to reach a certain level.
Parents who are thinking if they should let their child pursue the career, yes, definitely! But you also need to have it in yourself the belief toward your child and the kind of patience required to support them in the rather long journey.
Praveen Raju: Kids, you have to balance studies and sports just like P V Sindhu. To those who plan to give up studies because of sports, I would recommend against it. Regardless of your choice of becoming a professional athlete, you should also work towards refining your other equally important skills like communication, etc. Also, studies are also important because you always need a Plan B. Please understand and recognize the ground reality that everybody cannot reach where Sindhu or Tendulkar have managed. Although the career in sports is full of opportunities, it never lasts a lifetime.
ScooNews wants to express immense gratitude to Mr Raju and Miss. Sindhu for providing us with an extremely delightful and enlightening session on the importance of sports and fitness.
Image source- Kreedon.com