The View From Here – Sometimes extensive scientific research does little more than state the obvious

Tom Henihan

The results of an extensive research project conducted by Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario shows that approximately two-thirds of Canadian children have failed to reached an acceptable level of what is called “Physical Literacy.”

The CHEO website, defines physical literacy as being “more than just fitness or motor skill; it includes the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.”

It would take more than physical literacy to decipher the academic jargon just mentioned, but it is reasonable to assume that all the traits listed were at one time unclassifiable because they were accepted as inherent physical attributes that every fairly healthy child and adult possessed.

To put this sterile, clinical approach to health and wellbeing in perspective, on October 2 of this year, the same day as the HALO – CHEO report was released, fourteen articles were published In BMC Public Health Journal on varying facets of physical literacy and the Canadian Assessment of Physical Literacy (CAPL)

BMC Journal describes itself as an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health.

No matter how well intentioned this pettifogging approach to health and the human condition may be, it is almost inevitable, by isolating and itemizing what is essentially common and inherent in all of us, that eventually a malaise is invented for which a remedy must then be found.

From 2014 to 2017 over 10,000 children from 8 to 12 years old, in eleven cities across Canada took part in the study conducted by CHEO Research Institute and its partners.

Using the CAPL paradigm, the study assessed children on a number of different areas, “such as step counts and questions about daily activities.”

The CHEO website makes this banal summation from the outcome of the study , “the results demonstrate that more needs to be done to ensure Canadian children are physically literate.”

A senior scientist at CHEO Research Institute and the director of HALO made this curious remark: “We hear about increasing obesity rates in kids, falling rates of physical activity and more time spent in front of screens.”

It is fair to ask what stone these research scientist are living under, as the revelations they deduce from the HALO study have been common knowledge to the layperson for years.

When universities are vying for research funding, maybe finding the most tortuous route from A to B is the best strategy.

I think we were all healthier when we openly ridiculed facuous regimens such as “step counts” and laughed at ridiculous terms like “physical literacy.”

People are admonished for stating the obvious but in this instance not stating the obvious deserves reproach.

The solution to inactivity is activity, and the current physical inertia among young people is a symptom of their over reliance on technology. No research required.

It also doesn’t require research to grasp that unstructured physical play is essential to a child’s development. It may be somewhat perilous but that is largely why it is essential.

It is common knowledge also that physical play, such as walking in the woods, scaling walls, climbing trees or playing by a river puts children in unexpected situations that makes vital demands on their physical and mental coordination and develops their overall acuity.


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