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Youth, physical activity and leisure education: Need for a paradigm shift
The publication of the Surgeon General’s Report (1996) on Physical Activity and Health by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended a paradigm shift during the 21st Century from prescribing exercise for fitness, to promoting physical activity and leisure education as an active approach to good health and health promotion. Active approach to health promotion includes meaningful changes in people’s lifestyles, improving eating and drinking habits, avoiding the use of drugs and other poisonous substances and pursuing the wise use of leisure time, and sustainable and suitable enjoyable physical activity. Individuals need physical movement as a basic condition of life in order to achieve balance, good health and vitality. This becomes important in view of present-day lifestyles which are heavily influenced by physical inactivity, urbanisation, technological development and innovations and sedentariness. This concept paper discusses the challenges and risks today’s youth face as a result of lifestyles they adopt and the strategies that could be used to increase youth participation in physical activity through the promotion of active forms of leisure and recreation. The article emphasises the valuable influence of leisure education in the attainment of optimum health and the relationship between participation in physically active youth lifestyles and the physical, psychological and social health of youth. Suggested strategies include policy formulation, development and implementation, advocacy and education, promotion campaigns, multisectoral collaboration, conducive environment to support the active leisure, setting and monitoring realisable and achievable goals.