Missed opportunities to promote physical activity for kids.

Most kids don’t get enough physical activity. No surprise that inactivity is associated with health conditions like obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But a lack of activity in children can lead to poor academic performance, too.

But we are missing good opportunities to provide kids with chances to be physically active at home and in school. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard today.

Schools are a perfect place to include opportunities to be active. Unfortunately, opportunities for activity, from PE to recess, are among the first cuts to be made when budgets are tight. Why isn’t promoting an active, healthy lifestyle  just as important as promoting math or reading or science?

A common argument is that parents should teach their children about a healthy lifestyle, not schools. I disagree. At some point, we (society) decided that parents shouldn’t have to teach their kids math or reading or science. I don’t know the exact rationale, but it likely had something to do with the fact that most parents don’t have the knowledge or skills to teach these essential subjects. Why should activity and, while we are at it, nutrition, be any different?

In fact, we have been experimenting with removing  physical activity and nutrition education from schools and leaving it to parents for some time now. Given the childhood (and adult) obesity epidemic, it hasn’t gone well. Maybe it is time to revisit providing quality health, activity, and nutrition education in schools.

If you want to learn more about benefits of and ways to promote physical activity for kids the Physical Guidelines for Americans is a good place to start. In particular, the Midcourse Report offers recommendations and solutions regarding physical activity in children.

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