children on laptops in a classroom

Should sports and physical exercise be compulsory to create a healthy society?

This month’s Inequality Question focused on: Should sports and physical exercise be compulsory to create a healthy society?”

We received 65 responses and the discussion was viewed several hundred times! There were some recurring comments about illnesses caused by lack of exercise, strains on health services, as well as opposing comments about people’s right to choose if they want to exercise. 

To make sure all the young people we work with were safe, they were in our Emergency Quarantine Centre or at our main residential site and were able to access and engage with the debate from there, instead of at our Drop in Centres.

Let’s have a look at some of the comments…

Some people thought compulsory exercise was a great way to ensure a healthy society:

  • “Yes I think we should all have to do some sports every week but perhaps it could be on a motivational scheme like you are given vouchers for a meal out if you do a certain amount of exercise as it will help stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed.” – Hannah, UK
  • “Yes, they should be made compulsory because they make our bodies stronger to resist some diseases. And a disease-free society is a healthy society.” – Shakirah, Uganda
  • “Economically, sports and physical exercise can help many people spend less on medication. This is because other diseases such as flu, headaches etc can go if one participates in physical exercise.” – Solo, Uganda

However, others thought this would not be fair, and may even discourage some people from exercising:

  • “Being forced to do sports was the worst part of school for me. It made me feel ashamed of my body shape and the fact I wasn’t as quick or as good as other children. It should be a choice, not a forced thing.” – Debbie, UK
  • We need to create balance in our lives and our communities. The options should be easily available and affordable or free for people to use. And the education why should be so important. But we should not make it to be forced for people. People need choice so then they feel a sense of achievement and pride in what they have done.” – Akemi, Japan
  • I don’t think anyone should be forced into doing sport or physical exercise as some people may feel very self-conscious about this and this could cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. However, I think that it should be strongly encouraged and that places such as gym’s, exercise classes and swimming pools should be cheap enough that everyone who wants to, can use them. I also think that the prices of unhealthy food should be increased significantly, and the prices of healthy food reduced to encourage people to eat more healthily. Lessons on how to cook healthy food would also be useful for a lot of people.” – Amy, UK

Other interesting comments involved focusing on the environment before exercise, and compulsory military service:

  • “To have a healthy society other things in addition to sports and physical exercises need to be made compulsory, for example, tree planting. Besides absorbing air pollutants and carbon dioxide, protecting against climate change and providing oxygen, trees also add to the health of humans, wildlife and the society as a whole. They generally make the environment inhabitable which is good for a healthy society.” – Phillip, Uganda
  • Make it a must. Everyone should do sport and everyone should do military and community service. We are part of a society and have to live in a non-selfish way where we don’t affect others through our bad choices.” – Fred

In conclusion…

In this month’s discussion, we have seen many fascinating answers on different ways we can create a healthy society, and whether compulsory physical activity is the right way to do this. Thank you for everyone who joined in. The children find it so interesting to exchange ideas with people from around the world.

We hope to receive more of your ideas and comments in the discussion next month. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and we look forward to seeing you again!

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