Children’s Quality of Life on the Decline in the US

June 8, 2010

CNN is running a story highlighting a recent report that children’s quality of life in the US is on the decline.  There are a lot of factors that play into this study, but they directly pointed out:

There is also potential for an uptick in obesity as families with tight budgets move toward lower quality food because of the recession, Land said. Healthy foods tend to be expensive, while processed and fast foods are cheaper and more readily available to some families.

Community engagement will go down as school districts reduce the employment of teachers and cut back programs. The amount of time spent in school may even go down; in 2009, Hawaii became the first state to move to four-day school weeks to save money in the recession.”

(Emphasis mine)

As you can see, the declining budgets in schools have not only the possibility to impact the amount of exercise kids get, but could end up with schools moving to cheaper processed foods.  So with children eating worse at home, and at school, can we really afford to also cut back on gym time?  If we do, what kind of bargain are we making?  Save now in the moment and pay later with a lifetime of ill health and higher medical expenses, not to mention a shorter lifespan?

It’s time to act to prevent this from happening.


Why Exercise Every Day?

May 20, 2010

Exercise every day?  I know that seems a bit much.  Can there really be a benefit to exercising every day?  Maybe I’m just the kind of guy who likes to exercise.  I mean, I do, but is it really important to exercise EVERY DAY?


And I’m not the only person who feels that way.  More and more, doctors are calling for daily activity, even for kids.  The Mayo Clinic calls for at least 30 minutes every day.  The NIH says it as well.  And there are wonderful physical benefits from exercise every day, being stronger, having a stronger heart, being more flexible, you’re less likely to break bone later in life, etc.  But it’s not just about the immediate health benefits of the exercise itself that are important.  Exercise helps you sleep better at night.  Exercise helps you age better, and can stave off mental decline as you get older.  Exercise helps you to relax and feel a sense of peace, even on busy hectic days.  Exercise gets you outside and not stuck in the house.  Exercise helps you meet other people.  The long-term benefits of daily exercise greatly outweigh any of the objections that can be reasonably raised, and at all ages.

For kids, exercise, gym class, sports helps kids get to know their peers.  It helps them to gain coordination.  It helps them figure out how to work together and solve problems as a group.  It teaches them how to work towards a goal.  It can give them a sense of accomplishment.  Yes, they can get these things in other places, but to couple these benefits together with all the wonderful physical things exercise does, makes it all the more important that we get kids doing it right now.

But wait, there’s MORE!  It is said that it only takes 21 days of repeated effort to turn something into a habit.  And once you develop the habit of doing something good for yourself, you’ve won most of the fight. Having the habit makes it easier to stick with it.  It feels like second nature.

Which is why I want the schools to have gym every day.  If kids get in the habit of running, playing, being active every single day, not just at recess, but in gym as well, then it will be become habit.  It will feel natural for them to get out and exercise each and every day.

And I don’t mean lifting weights or plyometrics or “serious” exercise.  Going out and playing soccer for 30 minutes with your friends is as good as jogging, or better.  Playing dodgeball, climbing a rock wall (or a tree), kickball, they all give you the benefits of health, and clarity, and longevity, getting beaned in the head in dodgeball aside.  And if it happens in school, it will happen, because it will be built into a consistent schedule.

So this is why I’m seeking gym every day in schools.  And I encourage you to get out there and exercise every day as well.

You won’t believe how wonderful you feel in just 21 days.