Kate Staples: The Boot Camp - Setting a good example

Former athlete and Gladiator and now all-round fitness guru, Kate Staples tackles the child obesity problem

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2009

Former athlete and Gladiator and now all-round fitness guru, Kate Staples tackles the child obesity problem

As we all know, setting a good example to our children and the younger generation is vitally important for the future health of the nation.

The link between childhood obesity and parental behaviour is indeed startling; according to a 2009 study of 226 British families, obese mothers are ten times more likely to have obese daughters, while the link for fathers and sons was six-fold. With more and more evidence showing a behavioural link between the health of adults and children, it is up to us to promote the benefits of exercise to the younger generation. 

However, this does not mean preaching about exercising, it means actually doing it. Only by getting outside and getting fit can you really demonstrate the benefits such as achieving your ideal shape, improved energy levels, mental awareness and radiant skin.

Tackling the issueGovernment policy on tackling the issue has focused on targeting the younger generation, despite the reality that 80 per cent of severely overweight adults were not obese as a child. The focus of this policy must be realigned. Inspiring adults to exercise more will in turn positively affect the behaviour of their children and lead to a nourishing and long-lasting lifestyle change.

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From my experience, telling children what they should be doing over and over again can be counter-productive; we need to inspire them to want to be as fit and healthy as possible. This is not about losing weight or diets – people come in all shapes and sizes, which is what makes us such fascinating and wonderful creatures – it is about that feeling you get after exercise when you could achieve just about anything you set your mind to.

So, if you are thinking about starting to train yourself, it is important to remember that exercise is about so much more than just running. Try designing your own obstacle course using your surroundings to practise a variety of exercises and work different muscle groups. We are all motivated by challenges and by making exercise fun, you will be surprised how much more effective it becomes. Start slowly and then build intensity day-by-day, week-by-week – remember, it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish that counts! Incorporate mat exercises and stretching to add further variety and always ensure you warm up and down after every session.

Childhood obesity is the ticking time-bomb for our future generations and it must be addressed before it is too late. We do still have the chance to do something about it and we can start with ourselves, so get outside, get exercising and let everyone know how good you start to feel. You will be surprised at how many people you inspire to do the same.

Kate Staples runs Adventure Boot Camps across the South East. www.fitnesscamp.co.uk 

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