Skipping: the latest cure for Britain's obese children

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Schoolchildren are being taught how to skip in the latest attempt to tackle childhood obesity.

More than 100 education authorities across the country have drafted in skipping instructors to encourage pupils to get fit.

Experts say that skipping can also help with concentration in class, communication skills and can transform disruptive teenagers by improving behaviour in the playground. It is also one of the few activities that encourages boys and girls to play together.

It is estimated that as many as 15 per cent of children in Britain are overweight or obese. The huge rise in the number of fat children has been blamed on poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

The skipping classes are being provided by Skipping Workshops, which was set up by Harold Galley, a former headteacher. He says the increased focus on exams has diverted attention away from the importance of physical exercise.

"The Government is spending all this money on pedometers to give to obese children, but skipping is a much better way of getting them fit," said Mr Galley, who employs 20 instructors to provide classes in schools.

"The advantage of skipping is that you can do it on your own or in a group. A lot of problems in schools start in the playground and skipping can also help with anti-social behaviour."

As well as being a tradition in school playgrounds, skipping is also popular among coaches for training boxers. In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Amir Khan, the Olympic lightweight silver medallist, said that his mission was to encourage young boys to skip because it keeps their weight down, improves all-round fitness and focuses the mind.

"Skipping keeps you on your toes, literally," said Khan, who meets French champion Mohammed Medjadji at Wembley Arena on 17 February.

Amir Khan's guide to fitness on a rope

Warming Up

Amir warms up thoroughly before skipping - as you should

Going Steady

You should start off slowly and gradually build up speed

Speed Training

Amir skips while crossing and uncrossing his arms rapidly

Knees Up

Skipping with knees raised high to make it more demanding

Strong Finish

Amir skipping while crouched - a tough way to end his workout.