The link below is to an article that takes a look at the AllTrails app, for use when bushwalking/hiking, running, mountain bike riding, etc.
Physical education is one of the most popular subjects for children in their early school years. Yet by secondary school less favourable attitudes towards what’s known in the Australian school curriculum as Health and Physical Education (HPE) can start to creep in.
By adulthood, the mention of HPE brings on both pleasant (for those who enjoyed HPE at school or completed HPE activities well) and unpleasant memories (those who suffered embarrassment, bullying or injuries).
These attitudes towards HPE are important as early life experiences can be linked to our health later on. Adults with positive memories of HPE are more likely to be physically active throughout their lives.
That’s why we need to get students hooked on a range of activities they don’t give up on and can enjoy doing for many years after they leave school.
Exercise for our health
One of the major focuses of any HPE program in schools is to develop movement skills and physical activity in young people. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says physical activity is vital to improve mental, social and physical health, as well as preventing diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Lifestyle diseases are likely to be an increasing problem in Australia due to the projected increase in the percentage of the population aged 65 years and over.
For this reason, a high-quality HPE program early on at school that provides opportunities for students to experience a range of activities they can engage in later in life is important.
This can prepare students for the skills needed for lifelong engagement in physical activity and to lead active and healthy lives.
Our activities change as we age
The activities with the highest participation by Australians of different age groups are shown in the table below. These findings show some obvious differences between age groups.
School-aged students participate in more team-based activities. Often these involve physical contact and/or require speed and agility. Participation rates in these activities decrease substantially after the age of 35.
Australians aged 65 and over mainly participate in less intense aerobic activities. Seven of the top 10 (walking, golf, cycling, bowls, yoga, bush walking and pilates) activities for the 65-plus age group do not even make the top 10 for school-aged Australians.
Giving students increased access to these activities might assist schools in meeting UNESCO’s challenge to help young people develop lifelong participation in physical activity.
Teach them healthy habits when they’re young
Some school HPE and outdoor education programs are likely to include a few of these activities listed for the adult age groups.
But the crowded curriculum and specific HPE time allocations can be a problem. Teachers often don’t have time to cover these activities in enough detail to really hook students in. That means students don’t get to the point where they want to make these activities a permanent part of their movement tool kit.
Busy schools should consider integrating aerobic activities into other subject areas. For example, an excursion to a local park or reserve for bushwalking or orienteering could be linked with geography and science. It could also help inspire writing tasks in English or measurement tasks in maths.
Teachers could be encouraged to use class breaks for short yoga sessions. Yoga and pilates could be offered at lunchtime, either with a teacher, posters and signs, or via an app projected on a screen.
Doing a web search for your location and activities (for example, “golf/bowls/bushwalking clubs near me”) will help schools find nearby clubs to connect students with. Schools could invite club staff or volunteers to come to talk to the students and run practical sessions.
Being aware of local recreational clubs and organisations and the opportunities they provide (such as barefoot bowls nights), as well as websites where they can get more information (bushwalking trails), will make it easier for students to engage with these activities.
Engaged students are active and healthy for life
So we need to make sure students are provided with enough choice in activities.
Improved choice for students within HPE programs allows them to discover activities that provide appropriate levels of challenge for them to be able to overcome and achieve for overall enjoyment.
Evidence suggests that providing such a mastery climate in school HPE and junior sport can help students feel high levels of competence in their physical abilities. This then assists with students’ individual motivations to be physically active.
Vaughan Cruickshank, Program Director – Health and Physical Education, Maths/Science, Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania; Brendon Hyndman, Senior Lecturer & Course Director of Postgraduate Studies in Education, Charles Sturt University, and Shane Pill, Associate Professor in Physical Education and Sport, Flinders University
The link below is to an article that takes a look at a trek on Victoria’s ‘Fall Creek Circuit.’
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Many Australians will take a trip to one of our national parks over the holidays. In New South Wales alone, there are more than 51 million visits to national parks each year. Few if any of us would expect not to make it out of one alive.
But national parks claim lives around the world every year. In the United States, an average of 160 visitors each year die in a national park. Australia’s numbers are unsurprisingly smaller – there have been 13 deaths in national parks since 2013 – but the common theme is that these fatalities are usually avoidable.
Wherever death and injury are avoidable, it pays to alert people to the dangers. In Australia the main risks – falling off cliffs and waterfalls, deadly snakebites, getting lost – can all be reduced by one crucial piece of advice: stick to the path.
It sounds simple enough. But in fact, visitors failing to heed advice about walking trails is a significant problem for national park managers. Venturing off-trail poses significant danger to visitors, and puts unnecessary strain on emergency services and police.
Our 2017 study was the first to gather some hard numbers on the reasons why people tend to disobey the signs. We surveyed 325 visitors at Blue Mountains National Park on their attitudes to off-trail walking.
So, what’s behind our compulsion to get off the beaten track? First, 30% of respondents told us that off-trail walking can result in a shorter or easier walking route, whereas 20% said straying from the path can afford a closer look at nature.
Second, visitors are heavily influenced by other visitors and friends – the “monkey see, monkey do” effect. They are much more likely to leave the track if they see someone else do it first.
Third, in the absence of a handy toilet, many visitors venture off-trail for a private “comfort break”.
Finally, visitors rely heavily on signage to help them stay on the designated trail. Some 13% of our survey respondents said they would venture off-trail if there was a lack of adequate signs.
What might change our behaviour?
There are several tactics park authorities can use to reduce off-trail walking at national parks. They can use direct management techniques such as capping site capacity to avoid congestion – basically, regulating the maximum number of walkers in a given area, so the paths don’t feel too congested. They may consider zoning orders to permit or limit certain events to control capacity.
Ropes or low barriers along the walking trail can give a clear indication of the trail’s boundary. Of course, there is a fine balance between building structural barriers and maintaining the feeling of natural wilderness in a park.
Social media marketing might also work well. Suggested slogans such as “A true mate sticks to the trail” or “Be safe and stay on the trail with your mates” might help influence visitors’ behaviour. Park visitors are ever more connected to social media – Parks Australia’s social media channels reach an estimated 30 million people.
Signs should also let walkers know exactly what they are getting themselves into, by posting clearly the length and typical duration of walking tracks, and the distance to popular destinations such as lookout points. These signs should be posted both at the beginning of trails at at intervals along it, particularly at junctions or river crossings.
When it comes to our national parks it’s best to assume that, as with most things in life, humans will look for alternatives to what is expected. It’s human nature to want to bend the rules in what we might wrongly think is a harmless way.
Bushwalking in a national park is a great way to spend some time this summer. But when going off-trail could turn a tranquil walk into a deadly accident, it pays to stay on the beaten track.