Kids and exercise is the hot health topic. If we don’t get them into the habit of moving around more, it really becomes an uphill struggle when they reach adulthood.
What if you could find something that ticked all your kids’ health boxes, leaving them to get on with having fun, being sociable and helping them feel good about themselves?
I have the answer! Karate – it’s great whatever your age but particularly benefitial for kids – both girls and boys.
Scary fitness statistics
I’ve been reading a lot of scary stats about kids and exercise:
- As many as 38% of secondary school teachers said PE time for 14-16 year olds had dropped in recent years.
- Only 25% of adults know the recommended daily exercise time for young people (it’s 60 minutes).
- Just 17.5% of children are hitting this target.
Now, I’m not having a go at computers and gaming – I’ve been know to pick up a consul myself. But I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without sport. Sport is as natural to me as eating – always has been, always will be.
You’ll find me in the gym, in the park (with my dog, Evie) and on a surf board. But my first love is karate because it has so much to offer beyond keeping me fit and able to defend myself.
So it’s a big ambition of mine to get as many children (and adults) into the karate dojo, preferably mine.
Key karate considerations
There’s got to be more to exercise than getting your heart rate up. So here are my top 5 reasons for using karate to solve the kids and exercise problem:
Self-defence – got to be top of the list. Karate teaches you confidence and how not to be a victim which is so important for boys as much as girls.
Fun and laughter – a close second for me. If you don’t hear laughter and see smiling faces you’re in the wrong dojo! I believe both learning and exercise need to be enjoyable or forget it and I’m an adult!
Fitness – where to begin! Reacting fast, being agile, building stamina, using all your body, getting more supple, engaging your brain (link to mental health blog). Just imagine how that sets up a child for the rest of their life.
Respect – the dojo is a supportive environment where students respect and help each other. You’re OK about getting it wrong because you’re learning how to get it right. There’s no room for egos in karate. Stamping of feet is for kata.
Being sociable – you meet and become friends with so many people as a karate student. Although the focus is on the individual, karate is a team effort. You’re part of a club – a family of sorts – interacting with different people, encouraging each other towards similar goals.
The gym has its place in life, but karate is the best exercise buddy.
Karate is for girls and boys
In encouraging kids and exercise, I need to make a special plea to parents about girls and exercise. I can’t believe that girls are still less likely to do sport than boys – 50% less likely according to some studies.
We have some wonderful sportswomen role models in the UK. Some are superstars in traditionally male sports – football, cricket, rugby. Others are excelling in netball, tennis, athletics and cycling.
Girls need exercise as much as boys. They do well in sport but need encouragement. They need to know that it’s more than OK to get stuck in, show their competitive side and work up a sweat.
Which takes us back to karate and it being perfect exercise for girls as well as boys. We do the exact same techniques, wear the same gis and belts – and partner each other in kumite. And if any of my students want to compete, I’m right behind them having had my own success on the mat at both national and international level. (link to About page)
I run a club that’s mixed in every sense of the word: gender, age, culture. I have another female instructor, Susie Orchard. But don’t for one moment think we’re wimps – just ask the boys.