The AHS was launched 10 years ago to understand the overall health and fitness levels of children in private schools. The survey assessed the children on different fitness parameters of Body Mass Index (BMI), Aerobic capacity, Anaerobic capacity, Abdominal or Core strength, Flexibility, Upper body strength and Lower body strength.
At a national level the survey reveals that 1 in 2 children do not have healthy BMI. The number of children with healthy levels of Aerobic capacity, Upper body strength and Lower body strength is also low. Although this is a matter of concern, the number of children with healthy levels of Abdominal strength and Sprint capacity have increased in comparison to last year.
Saumil Majmudar, CEO, Sportz Village Schools, says, “The AHS indicate that the health of children in India is not what it should be. Although this is a cause for concern, we know what we have to do, to address this problem. The amount of time a child spends in physical activity is directly correlated to the fitness parameters of Upper body strength, BMI and Aerobic capacity. School leaders need to ensure that there is an adequate number of physical education periods factored into a school's timetable. There is also a need to implement structured in-school physical education programs that are age-appropriate, inclusive and engage all children meaningfully. Moreover, an adequate number of qualified physical education trainers are also required to ensure that all children get ample attention and equal opportunities to play and learn.”
Girls versus boys
The survey reveals that boys have slightly better BMI than girls. The boys also have better lower body strength and Aerobic Capacity. The girls, one the other hand, have fared better than boys in Upper body strength, Abdominal strength and Flexibility.
Fitness levels comparative (National) analysis:
Girls versus boys
The survey reveals that boys have slightly better BMI than girls. The boys also have better Upper body strength and Flexibility. The girls, one the other hand, have fared better than boys in Lower body strength and Aerobic capacity. The health levels of boys and girls in the remaining parameters i.e. Abdominal strength (84% healthy) and Anaerobic capacity (66% healthy) were the same.
Public schools versus Private schools
AHS further compared the fitness levels of children in public/government schools to the children in private schools. According to the survey, children in private schools have much better BMI (47%) compared to children in government schools (35%). Children in private schools have also fared better in the parameters of Upper body strength, Lower body strength and Abdominal strength. Children in government schools, on the other hand, have fared better in Aerobic and Anaerobic capacity as well as Flexibility.
Effect of number of P.E (Physical Education) classes per week
According to AHS, the number of weekly P.E periods also impacts the health of the children. The survey further shows that children with more than 2 physical education periods per week, have significantly higher Aerobic capacity. These children also fared slightly better in the fitness parameters of BMI and Lower body strength.
Impact of student-teacher ratio
The survey analyzes the effect of student-teacher ratio on the health of children. Low student-teacher ratio allows a teacher to better manage the physical education class. A class with fewer students enables the teacher to give his or her attention to each and every child. Therefore, the lower the student-teacher ratio, the healthier the children in all the parameters.
Schools that incorporated a structured in-school sports program have observed a consistent improvement in the BMI of their students.
Body Mass Index (BMI): A value derived from the weight and height of an individual and is used to gauge whether a person is within a healthy weight range.
Aerobic capacity: The ability of the heart and lungs to get oxygen to the muscles.
Anaerobic capacity: The total amount of energy from the anaerobic (without oxygen) energy systems. It is useful during high intensity short duration exercises or tasks such as sprinting.
Abdominal or Core strength: The strength of the muscles of the torso which helps to determine posture.
Flexibility: The ability of one's joints to move freely.
Upper body strength: The strength of muscles such as Pectorals (chest), Rhomboids (upper back), Deltoids (outer shoulder), Triceps (back of upper arm) and Biceps (front of upper arm).
Lower body strength: The strength of muscles in the legs such as quadriceps (the muscles on the front of the upper leg), Hamstrings (the muscles on the back of the upper leg), Gluteals, Hip Flexors, and Calf muscles.