Primary school children work on health and fitness

PRIMARY school children are working on their health and fitness, thanks to an investment in gym equipment at their school.

The five primary schools within BMAT – Cooks Spinney Primary Academy, Freshwaters Primary Academy, Little Parndon Primary Academy and Roydon Primary Academy in Harlow and Magna Carta Primary Academy in Stansted – have each had an investment of £3,000 Sport Premium Grant in new outdoor facilities.

The gym equipment is another way for the schools to monitor and improve the health and fitness of young people – enabling pupils to do pull-ups, sit-ups, bench dips and abdominal workouts.

They each had a Daily Mile track installed last year to encourage children to include exercise as part of their routines.

Phil Dawes, BMAT director of PE and sport, said: “After we had the Daily Mile tracks installed, we noted an improvement in children’s cardiovascular fitness levels. We are definitely seeing the benefits that brings. Building on that, we wanted to focus on their muscle strength and endurance.

“This equipment enables classes to complete circuits together and, once the restrictions allow us, we can host after-school fitness clubs to target children to improve certain aspects of fitness.

“This type of exercise is important for all-round general health and fitness. Now is the time to focus on getting children fit and strong and to build habits to last them throughout life.

“We are trying to ensure everyone engages in PE. Some like team sports, but for others it will be the gym that becomes their form of exercise for life. This is good preparation for that.”

Other benefits of using the equipment include improving fitness; building balance, co-ordination and agility; increasing muscle and bone strength; improving motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination; and encouraging communication and collaboration.

Anna Myatt, head of school at Roydon Primary, said: “The outdoor gym equipment has been a fantastic addition to our adventure playground. The children love to use it and we have seen their confidence grow as they develop flexibility, strength and balance. The equipment is used at break times, lunch times and in PE lessons. 

“As well as educating our children about healthy eating, we must find ways to ensure children enjoy physical activity and view exercise as part of their everyday life. The school environment is well placed to help children to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes’ exercise per day through the daily mile and the gym trail.”

Monica Jordan, PE teacher at Cooks Spinney, said: “We are delighted to have a new outdoor gym. 

“It is being used on a rotational basis at lunchtimes and we will also incorporate it into our PE fitness lessons. Pupils will be shown how to use the equipment correctly to get fitter, healthier and learn about the different muscles in their bodies. We will be talking about why it’s important to eat healthily to build muscle mass and why it’s good to keep a good balanced diet. 

“In the current pandemic, it’s more important than ever to get outdoors to get some vitamin D in the sunshine to give your mental health a boost, as well as getting exercise in the fresh air to boost your immune system.”

The BMAT schools bring in trainers each term to carry out fitness tests to monitor the progress being made.

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