Students who participate in regular physical activity not only tend to get better grades but are less likely to get sick and be absent from school.
State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, said this is a well-founded position held by health experts and should be a part of every school platform across the island.
She was speaking at the annual Jamaica Moves in Schools initiative, held at the Hopewell High School in Hanover, on April 28.
“The brain will automatically activate following exercise. When it does it can better concentrate and helps improve memory. This will help students to perform better and learn more information during classes,” Cuthbert-Flynn noted.
“Also, not only are students who participate in regular exercise [less susceptible] to illnesses, they are also more likely to develop better life-changing routines and a strong work ethic,” she added.
She said studies have also shown that students who are physically active tend to perform better on standardised tests and have higher graduation rates.
Cuthbert-Flynn emphasised that parents, teachers, and school administrators should make it a part of their routine to encourage as much physical activity as possible, noting that it is a sure-fire way of lowering the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and other life-altering conditions.
The Jamaica Moves in Schools programme is a joint effort between the Ministry of Education and Youth and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to promote healthy lifestyles, physical activity, and healthier ways to eat.
“The children are who we are trying to focus on right now… to teach them healthier ways to live. The non-communicable diseases and the rates that we are having with diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease remain a concern. We think it is important that we really focus on our youth if we want to have a healthier society,” she said.
“The healthcare system is overburdened… so what we want to do is to make sure that our children have healthier lifestyles, and this is why we are here at the Hopewell High School. The satisfaction will come only when there is a change in culture… a shift… and with the children eating better,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cuthbert-Flynn, a former Olympian, pointed out that the Ministry has also been taking its message relating to physical activity and healthier lifestyles in communities across the island, including the workplace.
“We want to make sure that everybody right across Jamaica is moving… and so that’s why we go into the parks, and as I said, we’re also in the workplace, asking persons to make sure that they get involved in this movement,” she said.