Sunday, 13 July 2014
Famous Five and the chest expander.
A national movement for physical fitness is, along with vegetarianism, love of dogs and an interest in a United Europe, one of a number of things that Hitler gave a bad name. But some would have it that there has never been a greater need to get people moving and that a national drive toward physical activity is the only thing that can save us from a plague of obesity. This week we had the news that the NHS is to offer gastric bands to thousands of type 2 diabetes sufferers in an effort to get them to lose weight. At the same time a report from the National Trust suggests that today's kids are spending much less time playing outdoors than their parents and grandparents did with a 1/4 of those surveyed spending less than half an hour a day playing outdoors and more than half spending less than an hour outside. You only have to look around you to see that obesity is a problem for very many people and you don't need to be a genius to work out that processed food and lack of exercise are the cause. It is also hard to argue about the benefits to kids of unstructured outdoor play and that far too many parents are over protective of their children. On the other hand I see armies of lads purposefully heading off somewhere clutching their skateboards and the number of people cycling is at an all time high. I'm an active person myself and love exercise but some of the most interesting and fun to be around people I have ever met have been committed couch potatoes. Lifestyle choices are just that, lifestyle choices not moral imperatives. There is probably no need for a revival of the long forgotten Health and Strength League, wonderful though the enamel badges were, and the fictional middle class world of the Famous Five was only fiction after all, but providing sports facilities (rather than vanity projects) and giving kids the right to roam can do no harm at all.