Physical Education Fights Obesity Epidemic in America

Fitness in America is being promoted more today than it has ever been before, mainly due to the over whelming obesity epidemic. “…data indicate that 11% of 6-11 year olds and 14% of 12-17 year olds are obese (Strategy Development, 1996). ” “…double the prevalence of 30 years ago (CDC, 1996). ” This is the year 2009 if it had double then, just think how much is has increased with the availability of fast foods. Promoting healthy lifestyles is thrown at us from every direction in today’s society.

From television shows, fast food restaurants revising their menus, to free health screenings provided by hospitals. But should this be happening in school? Some think requiring physical education grades K-12 would benefit student’s allowing them how to live a healthy lifestyle along with getting their education. Schools should incorporate the community so students can get physical activity not only in school but also outside. But some think this would take away from the academic side of school and be too much for students to deal with along with their core classes.

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Mandating physical education for all grade levels has its health benefits along with a few health risks. But first let us take a look at what exactly is causing the obesity epidemic. Blame it on your parents, your great uncle twice removed; blame it on anyone but yourself the person who is really at fault. But what is really causing obesity? Genetics do play a big part in our health, but it’s a fact that we can control and reduce our risks of developing disease. Many Americans are blaming their rapid weight gain on genetics, but they have played a part in our health from the beginning of time.

So why now are they causing us to gain weight. Stress also plays a large part, when we as student has a huge paper due that they forgot about the last thing we have time for is to make a healthy and well proportioned meal. We want energy and want it fast. Snacking and binge eating are one the rise in our fast paced society giving us more time to get the important things done. The activity levels of Americans has decreased over the years with the easily accessible internet, video games, and even ordering your dinner online and having it delivered.

We have no reason to get up off of the couch and be active when everything we need is just a click or call away. As Americans are growing so is the world around them, making it seem normal to be obese. “Big homes, bathrooms, beds and cars can provide a large frame for people in private…and now, when they go out to public spaces, architectural regulations make it so everyone fits most anywhere, anywhere, that is, that was designed recently. ” (qtd. in “The Widening of America. ”) I can remember in high school we had a concession stand that sold quick snacks.

This was always my choice during lunch, the last thing I had time for was sitting down and eating a full meal, when my boyfriend was flirting with my best friend during break! Now that we have taken a look to just why we are becoming obese let us ask the question, “Is mandating physical education K through 12 really going to help reduce our risk and not affect academics? ” Schools play a large role in helping students learn and practice healthy eating habits, and in providing the knowledge, motivation, and skills children need for lifelong physical activity.

With obesity levels on the rise it only makes sense to some to mandate physical education though out school. Overweight young Americans have tripled from 5% in 1980 to 15% in 2000, which is a scary statistic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age or grade in school increases. Physical activity has been defined as “bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in energy expenditure. ” Illinois and Massachusetts are the only two states who mandate P.

E. grades K-12 and New Jersey and Rhode Island grades 1-12. Although these states mandate it they still allow exemptions for students such as ROTC, band, and interscholastic sports. What are the other forty-six states doing about it? Well, twelve of them allow their P. E. requirement to be earned through online programs which does nothing but encourage a sedentary lifestyle. Elementary physical education is mandated but most of the time it is not taught. Physical education classes all over the U. S. ave been dramatically reduced or even eliminated, mainly due to budget cuts and the pressure to have scores on academic test In my opinion what is the point of having good grades and getting a well paying job, if you aren’t going to live long enough to enjoy it?

Thirty minutes of vigorous activity a day is all that is recommended for someone and most class periods are fifty minutes in length. Physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints. It also helps control weight, builds lean muscle, and reduces fat and prevents or delays the development of high blood pressure and helps reduce blood ressure in some adolescents with hypertension. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report printed for the Center for Disease Control states that, “Physical education can increase student participation in moderate to vigorous physical activity and help high school students gain the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to engage in lifelong physical activity. ” A P. E. class every day could be much like a recess which could relieve stress and promote skills necessary in life such as leadership. It can also improve student’s concentration skills and classroom behavior; and what teacher wouldn’t want that?

In whether or not all students could perform on the same level, special classes such as yoga could be an option. A good P. E. program is key to success in schools. If the school does not have a good foundation and support there will be no improvements in maintaining healthier lifestyles. Schools should create a council made up of faculty members that enjoy physical activity and place them in control of the program to ensure success. A way to increase physical activity would be to promote it be giving student’s non-food awards for participating. If a student does well in P.

E. class, allow them to have an extra recess or even bonus points to help raise their class grade. Even in the classroom, students can still get in some of their recommended daily activity. There are many programs classroom teachers can use to incorporate physical activity into their lessons. For example, my science teacher would have group together and act out the functions of a cell, it actually got us moving around for the entire class period. On the other side of the argument, mandated physical education could take away from a student’s academic success.

Alabama State Superintendent of Education Ed Richardson states, “It will decrease the electives students will be able to take, some students taking college preparatory courses also might be forced to drop popular electives like band to take physical education. ” But a 2001 study from the California Department of Education identified a direct correlation between students’ performance on literacy and math tests, and their performance on measures of physical fitness Many feel a student wouldn’t get the adequate amount they need anyways because if they don’t like it in the first place making them participate will make them hate it all the more.

Others think the students who aren’t so athletic may feel embarrassed because they are no good at sports and develop self-esteem issues. Teens with health problems are another factor; there may be a health reason behind why they are not exercising regularly. Having to participate in P. E. may trigger a student’s asthma which would then cause them to miss out on their core classes for being sick. But how can exercise harm anyone I ask? In my opinion it honestly can’t as long as the teacher is trained and pays attention to each student’s individual needs. The unique goals of physical education are the development of physical competence, health-related fitness, cognitive understanding, and a positive attitude toward physical activity so that individuals can adopt and maintain physically active and healthy lifestyles (NASPE, 2004a). ” Some school may just not have the funding for facilities, trained faculty members, and equipment needed to have a good physical education program; but when increasing obesity and rising healthcare costs are threatening our country, we are cutting the very programs that could help reverse this.

There are many ways the rising obesity levels can be resolved, the issue is whether or not it needs to start at school or at home. Physical education, provided at school, is an ideal way to encourage activity and develop fitness among children and, for many children, will be their only preparation for an active lifestyle. Almost every day we as Americans hear something that makes us think; should I really eat that? It is then up to use to decide if we do or not. Just like it is our personal decision to maintain a healthy active lifestyle.

There is only one scientific reason for weight gain; eating more calories during the day than you burn off during our daily activities. The causes of obesity range from fast food to genetics, but whatever the case may be it can be reversed. According to Jeff Blumenfeld, from PE4LIFE, today’s children are in danger of having a shorter life expectancy than their parents because of lack of physical activity and the health issues that can arise from that inactivity.

Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis are associated with obesity and each of these can be prevented or reversed with a little daily exercise and a healthier diet. Schools can promote physical activity not only though a physical education class but in smaller ways like: having students deliver notes to the other classrooms or offices rather than using an intercom, and creating one activity all students partake in during recess so it is ensured everyone is active. The issue is whether or not it needs to start at school or at home.

Whatever one decides, I am positive we can all agree on one thing and that is something needs to be done and things are being done. In 2007 the bill: FIT Kids Act was introduced to the Senate to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The FIT Kids Act requires state accountability systems (expanding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) to measure not only student academic progress, but their progress toward a national goal of 150 minutes of weekly physical education in elementary school and 225 minutes of weekly physical education in middle and high schools.

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Physical Education Fights Obesity Epidemic in America. (2017, Feb 22). Retrieved from