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Why Do We Need Physical Literacy?

February 13, 2015 - Posted by

Climbing is an important part of physical literacy

Physical literacy is a brilliant concept that has been gaining some traction in the sports community. Canadians, the frontrunners of the concept, have started to implement the idea in their sports community on a large scale, but to the wider world, being physically literate is either a complete nonsense or just being good at sports.

Newsflash – it’s more than that. As our working culture becomes more and more confined to the chairs and the desks, we have forgotten some basic principles for purposeful and fulfilled human existence. What may seem obvious has become a hazy idea that is often simplified to the equation: working out=not being fat.

To put it bluntly, most of us are not physically literate

PHE Canada defines being physically literate as moving “with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”

The boys of 1960s could climb trees like it was their second nature. Can the children of today do that? The gym enthusiasts of today can bench press 200 kilos, but can they avoid slipping on an icy road?

This TEDx talk above, given by Robert Bettauer a few years ago, paints a clear picture why physical literacy is so important to our life. We might know the health benefits of moving and the higher quality of life that exercise brings, but being physically literate allows us to see that from the view of the holistic development of a person. It’s less about the end goal of being fit but about the process of using everyone’s full potential in the best possible way.

But it should be a lifelong pursuit…

We develop the essential movement skills for physical literacy in our childhood. Walking, running, jumping, throwing, kicking, climbing, skating, swimming, skipping, etc. – there are more possible movement skills than you first realise. Of course, learning the basics of physical literacy in early age is of utmost importance, but it’s just as important to maintain active lifestyles for the whole life.

Being physically literate is a continuous action, a mentality that we live by. But just as knowing the alphabet doesn’t mean you understand the meaning behind text, being physically literate is a lot more than just physical action. It’s about the confidence, knowledge and competence in what you’re doing in wide variety of environments. It’s about applying your movement skills throughout your life.

…so get conscious about it

The world will continue to become more convenient and people will become more and more sedentary. Therefore, we need to be aware of the consequences and the smartest counter-actions to help us develop as a balanced person. This is why we need to value physical literacy as much as we value written literacy or numerical literacy. Some even suggest measuring it to influence public policy.

So why now? Because if we lose this generation to inactiveness, we might lose the next ones as well.


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