The children of nonathletes do not get enough workouts. Only a fifth of them exercise. Parents should set an example, says Rech from MultiSport

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Children in the Czech Republic are every year getting less exercise every day, according to a survey by MultiSport Benefit. Less than a third of children are actively doing some sports, while in 2020, it was 4 out of 10. Over 30% of parents also admit that their children lack exercise. The situation is worst for children whose parents are not very fond of exercising themselves. Only a fifth of them actively sports. However, it is crucial for children to have a healthy lifestyle role model in their parents and it is, therefore, advisable to do sport together with them. 

Parents are starting to decide at the beginning of the school year which clubs to enrol their children in. Those who care about getting enough exercise will certainly consider sports clubs and courses. 

Setting an example 

Parents should definitely think about setting an example for their children. The MultiSport Index survey, which maps Czechs’ sports and healthy movement habits, has confirmed the importance of the role of parents in creating a healthy relationship with exercising. Children of parents who do sports daily get one-third more exercise than the ones of nonathletes.  

“Sport is crucial not only for children’s physical health but also for their personality development. They learn fair play and how to function in a team. Children should therefore see from an early age that doing sports regularly is a normal part of life. They can learn the technique at clubs, but a positive attitude towards active movement is best acquired at home. For example, by seeing their parents doing sports – or even by going to exercise together,” comments Miroslav Rech, CEO of MultiSport Benefit, a company which offers the popular MultiSport card. 

Parents can also arrange an accompanying card for their partner and up to three children cards for kids up to 15 years. This way, they can do sports together. The so-called MultiSport card gives them free access to swimming pools, ice rinks, and badminton, tennis and beach volleyball courts. 

Football and floorball dominate, and the number of cyclists and tennis players is on the decline 

Czech children have been moving less in recent years, and only 68% of parents think their children get enough exercise. 30% of children are active in some sport, compared to 37% in 2020. Parents are most likely to sign their children for football, with floorball taking the imaginary silver medal. 

The number of small floorball players has increased since 2020, similar to football, hockey, dancing and gymnastics. In contrast, almost all other sports have seen a decline in young sportspeople. In particular, two-thirds fewer children are active in cycling. While it was the second most popular sport among children in 2020, it has since been surpassed by floorball, dancing, swimming, athletics and ice hockey.  

There are more than half fewer young runners and third fewer tennis players among children. In the case of running and cycling, we are thus observing the decline of the “Covid trend” when running and cycling enjoyed unprecedented popularity. There have also been fewer children taking up judo – despite the international success of Lukáš Krpálek. 

The lack of exercise among Czech children is also alarming because it can lead to a deterioration in the health of the Czech population. According to the World Obesity Federation, by 2030, over 19% of children aged 5 to 9 will be obese in the Czech Republic. 

Sport is one of the most important components of a healthy lifestyle. There has been a recent trend among parents to be more concerned about their children’s diet, with attention being paid to sugar intake and the quality of food in school canteens. However, a healthy diet needs to be complemented by plenty of exercises, as this is essential for the proper development of children. When it comes to food and sports, the most important thing is what children learn at home from their parents,” explains nutrition therapist Šárka Knížková from the 1st Faculty of Medicine of Charles University. 

Energy prices could make things worse 

People in the Liberec and Olomouc regions experienced the most significant drop in exercise among their children. While in 2020, 84% of North Bohemians thought their children got enough exercise, now only half do. Parents also blame the state for this, as only 15% of respondents believe it is doing enough to motivate their children to exercise.  

Moreover, the situation may now get even worse, as many sports facilities and clubs will be forced to increase their prices or close down entirely due to high energy prices. 

“Energy prices are hitting sports facilities very hard, which will also affect the children’s courses. It is even more important for parents to realize they can prepare their children’s sports programmes themselves. Moreover, with a Children MultiSport card, they can do sports together without having to spend money on courses. This way, they combine the pleasant with the useful – they will lead their children to a healthy lifestyle and still save money. What’s more, they will get some exercise themselves,” concludes Rech. 

“If Czechs exercised more, healthcare costs could be reduced by 25-30%, saving about CZK 150 billion. The Czech Republic has a very high per capita consumption of medicines and the highest number of doctor visits in Europe. More exercise could reduce the use of medicines by up to a third. Physical inactivity is also a major cause of a number of serious diseases. For example, according to a 2015 study, the risk of heart attack can be reduced by up to 35% if we exercise for ten minutes a day,” says Professor Václav Bunc from the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport at Charles University. 

Healthcare costs are also rising as the number of people suffering from obesity in the Czech Republic has increased by around a fifth in the last 20 years. These people have up to an 80% chance of becoming type 2 diabetics and will suffer from hypertension, Bunc said. There are currently about one million type 2 diabetics in the Czech Republic.  

According to MultiSport’s findings, it is not a concern for one’s health that motivates Czechs to exercise. In fact, fewer people are exercising to improve their fitness or look better. On the contrary, more and more Czechs are exercising to reduce stress or to feel better mentally. The most common reasons for not exercising are lack of time and motivation. A too-busy schedule is cited as an obstacle by 59% of respondents, and lack of willpower by one percentage point more. 

“Promoting sport is extremely important at the moment. It is clear that if we skimp on health and exercise, we will pay dearly for it. That is why we are trying to motivate Czechs to exercise and, at the same time, support sports facilities so that they can survive the current difficult period and people will continue to have enough places to go to do sports. Whether for health reasons or just to improve their mood,” concludes Rech.