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Newtown school leads international fitness research

Created on 18/10/2017 @ 14:17
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Thanks to the initiative of one school pupil, staff and parents at Hafren Primary School in Newtown have watched its pupils’ activity levels increase to up to four hours a day. 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends children achieve at least one hour of physical activity every day. Yet according to the latest National Survey for Wales, only 62 per cent of three to seven-year-olds in Wales are physically active for at least an hour a day.

And this figure drops to just half (52 per cent) for children aged eight to 12. 
Finnish outdoor brand, Reima, wants to change this and this week launched a campaign to get children around the world to move more - one million hours more in total. And they know from one school in Wales that it can be done. 
Back in the summer, 70 pupils aged nine, 10 and 11 (years 5 and 6) at Hafren Junior School were each given a ReimaGO sensor. The school caught onto the idea after one of its younger pupils, Alex, was sent the activity tracker on a trial and thought it would encourage his fellow pupils to get active outdoors. 
Head Teacher, Carl Hyde, said: "Increasing physical activity opportunities for our children has been a focus for us at Hafren for the past few years, as we aim to become a fully Healthy School, and we have introduced a number of initiatives to promote health and well being.

"Using the ReimaGO trackers has enabled us to tie a lot of this together and the children have enjoyed using them to see how much physical activity they were doing. They also set themselves challenges in school and at home to become more active."

After just six weeks wearing their sensors, the children had averaged 450 hours of activity each week, or 22 hours per child per week. And during their best week, they clocked up a massive 882 hours – or 28 hours per child. That’s four hours a day each on average. 
This Welsh pilot study has been conducted alongside 15 child day care centres in Finland who have also witnessed increased activity levels among the children. Both studies highlighted three positive responses:
•       Collective play – children creating new games and activities together 
•       A new attitude – children have been motivated to move more, but also taken this attitude home urging parents to move too 
•       Awareness – increased awareness of the importance of movement with parents becoming more interested in their children’s daily activity levels as well. 
Noora Salonoja, ReimaGO Business Manager says, “Every child’s growth and development requires exercise. Reima’s mission is to bring back the joy of movement and make it part of children’s everyday life. After all, playing and outdoor recreation are part of the basic rights of every child. We are so proud of Hafren School and the commitment they have shown to this project and the changes they have incorporated. We really hope they are changes for life”. 
Dr Steven Mann, ukactive Research Director, said: “Apps, tablets and mobile phones are often blamed as the root cause of physical inactivity, but we have to accept that technology is a very real part of our lives and will only become more important over time. 
“As such, we need to harness our love of technology and re-engineer it so that it encourages people to be more active, rather than less. This is what Reima is working towards with its activity tracker and I am very pleased to hear of the encouraging results that have been achieved so far.”
The study with Hafren School forms one part of a bigger project by Reima to encourage children around the world to be active outdoors. In fact they want to collate one million hours of activity using the hashtag #millionhoursofjoy. 

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