This is my second round for my second cycle of this year. For those of you who don't know, my question this time is...
How can a student lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle?
As a reminder, I will be splitting each round into two segments: the first will relate to the average Canadian student and the second, the average Kenyan student. For this round, I will be looking into physical health.
So let's get started!
Health Canada's physical activity guidelines state that children considered "school-aged" should get at least 90 minutes of exercise every day. However, it is reported that only 12% of Canadian children are meeting this level. Additionally, it has been discovered that age groups that consist of older children and youth usually get less physical activity compared to those that are younger. (1)(2)
What the majority of my sources said is that exercise has been proven to strengthen cognitive skills; accordingly, students see an improvement in their academics - and they see it fast.
But, before I continue with more research, let's take a look at my survey.
44.4% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they believe school impacts their physical health negatively.
22.2% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they do not believe that school impacts their physical health negatively.
33.3% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they are unsure if school impacts their physical health negatively.
Something to keep in mind is that at my school (Charles Best), physical education is only mandatory until the 10th grade. So, this year, I had no classes that entailed any physical education which is why I can understand why some students may feel like school is affecting their health. On the other hand, those who have organized sports/activities or have taken a physical education class may not feel the effects of school on their physical health. (3)
Nevertheless, obesity is still a big problem in Canada with one-third of teenagers being considered obese. But, exercise isn't only the only determining factor of a healthy lifestyle. (1)
Because our bodies are developing rapidly at this age, the fuel we give ourselves is crucial. A study by Health Canada in 2012 reports that "3 in 10 adolescents have energy intakes that exceed their energy needs." So, how can we ensure that we are making healthy choices when it comes to our diet? First off, having three meals a day along with some snacks is very important. When you skip a meal, you are missing out on necessary minerals and vitamins which can, in turn, make it very hard to concentrate and leave you with a lack of energy. (4)
Canada's Food Guide was actually modified this year. So, instead of giving you specific serving numbers and food groups, the new guide focuses on helping you implement healthy food choices in your every day lives. (5)(6)
According to Kenya’s 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity and Body Weight of Children and Youth, Kenyan children who live in more rural areas are more physically active compared to those who live in urban. A study in urban Kenya found that "the mean daily time spent in light physical activity was 463 minutes; mean daily time spent in moderate physical activity was 32 minutes; and mean daily time spent in vigorous physical activity was only 4 minutes." In fact, only 12.8% of children who participated met the recommendation of 60 minutes or more of daily activity. (7)
Before I explain the information kindly given to me by some Kenyan students, let's take a look at the survey.
0% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they believe school impacts their physical health negatively.
66.7% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they do not believe that school impacts their physical health negatively.
33.3% of Canadian Butterfly Effect students stated that they are unsure if school impacts their physical health negatively. (3)
This week, I had the help of @Dorcas Akinyi (Sweetwaters). Thank you so much, Dorcas for helping me with my research about school life in Kenya!
Here is what she told me: At her school, students have exercise classes once per week; however, it is not mandatory. If you choose not to take an exercise class, you would spend that time studying. Also, everyone is free to participate in any sports activities.
I'm also in contact with a few other Kenyan students, so when they get back to me, I will update this post.
Dorcas's school provides adequate food for each student and she says that it is healthy; however, compared to what she eats at home, it is not as healthy.
Kenya's food guide is currently under development; however, they have released some tips for healthy eating.
Here they are:
- " Eat a variety of foods from different food groups every day. Include whole or unprocessed starchy foods as part of meals.
- Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, red and yellow vegetables and fruits every day; and include a variety of other vegetables and fruit.
- Eat beans, peas, lentils, cowpeas, pigeon peas, soya, nuts and edible seeds regularly (at least four times a week).
- Eat lean meat, fish and seafood, poultry, insects or eggs at least twice a week.
- Drink fresh milk, fermented milk or yogurt every day.
- Use oil or fat in moderation in meals; limit the amount of solid fat. Use fortified oil.
- If you use sugar, use it sparingly.
- Use iodized salt, but use it sparingly.
- Drink plenty of safe water." (8)
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to give any feedback in the comments!