Indonesian doctors push teens to get more physical

PHOTO: Indonesian doctors push teens to get more physical

At a time when young teens are more likely to update their Facebook status than play hopscotch during class breaks, doctors are campaigning at several state schools across Jakarta to encourage young students to get moving.

Hundreds of students at SMP 11 state junior high school in South Jakarta were seen participating in physical activities such as jumping rope, hula hooping, and basketball on Friday morning. This was the 18th stop for the Association of Sports Medicine Doctors (PDSKO) in its Fit and Healthy Indonesia (Indonesia SeGar campaign), which commenced in August.

"During my school days, my friends and I would play basketball during breaks. Nowadays, you just see kids sitting and browsing social media. Leading a sedentary life could put you at risk and we want to encourage our younger generation to be more physical for a better future," sports medicine doctor Andi Kurniawan said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 3.2 million people die each year from health problems caused by physical inactivity, making it the fourth-leading risk factor after high blood pressure, tobacco use and diabetes.

Data from the 2013 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) showed that 42 per cent of the population over 10 years old, mostly living on Java, led sedentary lives. Furthermore, 44 per cent of Jakartans lead sedentary lives.

Andi explained that during the campaign, doctors conducted physical fitness tests on 500 students from the 10 schools visited.

"We found that 36 per cent of the sample was obese. Furthermore, 63 per cent of the students were considered unfit," he said, adding that 72 per cent of those categorized as obese watched an average two hours of television a day.

The fitness test, Andi explained, consisted of measuring the students' body mass index (BMI) and their body fat percentage. Moreover, the students underwent a flexibility test, muscle-strength test and a multistage fitness test to measure their aerobics level.

Doctors association finds that more teens lead sedentary lives WHO says physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor globally Some students opt out of activities on account of scorching heat The school's courtyard was packed with teenagers doing push-ups and shooting hoops as their peers cheered on.

Pop music blared loudly as Coca-Cola soft drinks were distributed for free because Coca-Cola was a campaign partner. Consumption of the global brand's star drink has been linked to obesity, tooth decay and osteoporosis by nutritionists and doctors.

An eighth grader at SMP 11, April, told The Jakarta Post that she took the fitness test and was excited about the other physical activities offered that day.

"It's a little tiring but its so much fun. I hula hooped, did jumping jacks and jumped rope. We usually only play sports once a week at school but we should do this every week. It's so much more fun than class," she said, a little out of breath after a session of jumping rope with a friend.

However, not all of the students were enthusiastic about the physical activities. Several teenagers sat under the shade while browsing on their smartphones, chatting with their friends or taking pictures together.

"It was fun at first, but then it became too hot and I got lazy," ninth grader Sultan said.

Separately, an official from the Jakarta Education Agency's junior and senior high school students sector, Eddy Murfi, said that the new 2013 curriculum stipulates that students must be given at least three hours of physical education a week.

"I'm not saying that we have to bring back the mandatory morning exercise students had to do back in the 1970s until the 1990s, but this campaign is a great push to encourage children to lead a healthier, better balanced life," he said.