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Almost 40% of people in South Africa are dangerously inactive – as reported in a global study published by the World Health Organisation. The situation has worsened over the past year, with a study by P Jean-Luc Gradidge and colleagues showing that Covid-19 has exacerbated sedentarism, owing to calls to remain physically and socially distanced from society and predominantly at home. If you are currently studying to be a sports educator, know that the knowledge you obtain and impart will have benefits that last way beyond current times. Sedentarism has many implications that can be prevented by encouraging your future clients and/or students to make exercise a necessity in their lives.

The Health Effects Of Sedentarism

Failing to meet recommended levels of activity and sitting down for several hours on end can have various health effects – including a heightened risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, muscle loss, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Being immobile is also linked to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is characterised by a blood clot in a vein (usually in the leg). DVT can be dangerous because blood clots can break loose and travel through the bloodstream, getting lodged in the lungs and causing pulmonary embolism. DVT is the reason why it is recommended that people travelling long distances should get up frequently and walk or conduct stretches to boost circulation.

Your Role As A Sports Educator Or Trainer

Graduates in sports education have an important role to play in getting people active again. As found in a study by Victoria Gaesser and colleagues, motivational coaching improves adults’ intrinsic motivations. Trainers who rely on effective motivational strategies can help individuals feel more excited about sport and the benefits it brings to their lives. Trainers and sports educators are often seen as mentors in more than just the specific sport or training programme being carried out, and their studies in sports psychology is essential for designing training programmes that are client specific.

Advice On Battling Sedentarism At Work

Trainers or educators can play an important role in ensuring clients or students follow crucial advice, even when they are home or at the office. For instance, standing desks are often recommended for office workers to help battle sedentarism and boost office ergonomics. However, these desks need to be used correctly in order to have their desired effect. The idea is to apply a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 (sitting to standing) to boost circulation. Other areas sports educators can help with include posture, exercises for the lower back, and stretches that clients can do every hour or so to help prevent sedentarism, and proactive stress-busting techniques.

Work Exercise Programmes

Your work as a sports and exercise specialist may involve in-office visits to conduct everything from aerobics right through to strength or even CrossFit sessions for employees. A study by Gisela Sjogaard and colleagues focused on the effects of introducing exercise at the office. The study involved over 3,500 workers and a 10-to-52-week exercise programme based on evidenced sports science training principles, and tailored to employees’ respective fitness levels. The study showed that employees who completed these programmes enjoyed a wide range of benefits – including reduced neck pain, improved cardio-respiratory fitness, increased muscle strength and balance control, and decreased body mass index.

Sedentarism is linked to a host of health conditions and early mortality. As a trainer, coach or educator, you can help sedentary workers to feel more motivated to improve aspects such as their body mass index and cardiovascular fitness.

Written by Jane Sandwood


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