I’m so unsurprised by the latest report over on the BBC News entitled Children need even more exercise, in which they suggest that modern children watch too much TV, play too many video games, and generally get far less exercise than they should.
Their bold suggestion, well, the bold suggestion of researchers in the prestigious journal Lancet, is that children should get at least 90 minutes of exercise each day.
So how about your kids? Are they getting the recommended amount of physical activity? Remember, if they’re running around, or if you’re even just walking to the store (or school, though this time of year you probably aren’t going to school too frequently) that’s exercise.
The reason this is so important? Because the rates of obesity in children have tripled in the last 20 years and even in the UK, which isn’t anywhere near as into junk food and videogames as the United States, one in ten six-year-olds is obese.
The researchers calculate that if the current trends continue that half of all children in England will be obese by 2020. Scary!
Interesting comments in the article itself:
“There were a number of schemes working to increase physical activity among young people, including issuing schoolchildren with pedometers – devices that measure how many steps someone takes.”
My 6yo son is very interested in getting a pedometer, as it happens, but so far we haven’t gotten him one. Maybe I should rethink that.
My favorite line: “The government also wants all school pupils to receive two hours of PE and sport a day by 2010.”
Compare that with the amount of physical activity your own child gets in public or private school each day. Weekly I hear about schools cutting physical education and related programs, not adding time to them. It’s one of the reasons that boys have such a hard time in school nowadays, in my opinion.
But that’s another story…
For now, just think about how much time your child spends doing physical activity on a daily basis. Is it even close to 90 minutes?
Like everything else we want our kids to do, we’ve got to model the behavior. If we spend our leisure time in front of the TV or computer, our kids will surely honor us by imitation.
PE classes that focus on competitive sports rather than activities that can promote lifelong fitness do disservice not just to the non-jocks, but to the jocks themselves. A recent NYTimes article talked about former high school athletes who are now completely out of shape – because it’s hard to play football or lacrosse when you’re a 35 year old with a job.
The biggest culprit in making fitness inaccessible has got to be the fitness industry itself. Wanna get in shape? Join a gym, or buy one for your home. Neither is a recipe for success for 99% of the population, but we’ve become convinced that those are the only two options available.
The key to fitness is a life of movement. Last time I checked, homo sapiens was still an animal species. Unlike plants, animals move around. So here’s the million dollar question if you want to improve your fitness: “What’s my opportunity to move here?” Ask it 20 times a day, and you’re onto something.
What we model, our kids will copy.
And besides, until we’re fit ourselves, we won’t have the energy to drag them away from the flickering blue lights.
STUDENTS SHOULD GET ALOT OF EXERCISE, BUT ME i DONT BECAUSE AT MY SCHOOL i DONT GET GYM CLASS FOR THE WHOLE YEAR AND THATS NOT FAIR TO ME AND OTHER KIDS AT MY SCHOOL. THE SCHOOL i go to is LASSITER MIDDLE SCHOOL (GO LIONS!!!!)
WE NEED MORE GYM AND RECESS BECAUSE IF NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO GET FAT!!!
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