On Target
May 4, 2007
It’s fitness not fatness

A FEW YEARS AGO being slim and trim was the in thing. A popular saying then was “Hollywood calls for slim girls”, But today being “round like an English pound”, has taken the swing. Sadly, though, the latter is the case with many of our female sportswomen. This was quite evident at the opening of the national netball tournament last Sunday at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, as many netballers; even national players seem to be on the heavy side.{{more}}

To compound this, many of our netballers are constantly appearing on the courts with heavily strapped knees, an indication of the pressure their upper bodies are putting on them.

To see many netballers sporting folded mid sections make a national competition look like a village league where persons are more in it for a sweat than to compete seriously.

Being full figured may be okay but in competitive activities where agility is paramount, then this must be factored in.

It should be made mandatory that when persons who have been identified and those aspiring for national selection, they should have strict training regimen coupled by proper dieting.

But these persons oftentimes lack the discipline to maintain the programmes, and with national associations without the teeth those cannot be enforced or even policed.

It was no secret that the past successes of our national outfits were hinged on fitness more than skill that made them a cut above the rest.

The 1979 and 1981 national football teams put fitness as top priority in their preparation; hence they rose to the pinnacle of Caribbean football at that time. We are yet to recapture those glory days.

The powers that be, know these requirements but are not acting to address the situation.

The national Under-16 netball team’s poor showing in the Caribbean Tournament last December was partly blamed on the players’ state of fitness.

Physical fitness promotes mental alertness; hence the performance level of our sportsmen and women is raised as a result of these prerequisites.

Adults in many cases are not providing youngsters with that example. In the school system, many students cannot perform simple tasks such as bending, jumping, while activities which require bodily coordination are a labourious undertaking. Skipping and concentration exercises have lost their significance taken over by the latest electronic devices and gadgets.

The schools organizations for want of quick profits are defeating their Health and Family Life Education Programme where proper dieting and exercises are emphasized, by not ensuring that the various tuck shops and cafes are stocked with foods that promote good health.

The end result is many students too are falling into the mode of being unfit and a fast becoming obese.

Advances in technology, the fast food culture, improved transportation system; the lack of recreational facilities and general lack of emphasis on fitness have all contributed to this trend.

The emergence of gyms, health stores and the like has become fads rather than preventative avenues for health problems.

However there are persons here who are slaves to fitness, while others are playing catch up having been told by the doctors to do so.

Fitness transcends our sports people who do so competitively, as a healthy nation breeds a wealthy nation.

The Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sports has embarked on a regular exercise programme dubbed “Exercise in the Park”. The Department of Physical Education has taken the lead in this field through the initiative of its director Nelson Hillocks. He however must lead by example. Whilst the efforts of the department are commendable, they are insufficient to really stem the problem.

The schools, the community groups, the few that are still active, the Ministry of Health and the various work places must combat this happening with added vigour.

Needed is a national campaign in this field as several chronic ailments due to a lack of exercises are becoming more and more prevalent.