Have you ever noticed young children outside playing? I mean really, really payed attention to every detail. You would have noticed a few things. First, and foremost they have a tremendous ability to squat down and pick things up with near perfect form. They possess the skill to lunge forward, push and pull objects and are beginning to gain the ability to balance pretty well. Overall their movement looks pretty awesome! Second, they are learning new skills; jumping, running, skipping and climbing, to name a few. What else you might notice is that they are having fun. Physical activity is fun!
The one thing we really need throughout our whole lives to be happy and healthy is physical activity. Unfortunately the time that is made for physical activity has decreased not only for our adult population, but it has been significantly limited for our youth population. Elementary and high schools have decreased their requirements for daily physical activity to the point where some students are no long required to even partake in any physical education sessions at all in high school. I guess once you reach a certain teenage year physical activity is no longer deemed as important.
There are a few options to deal with this problem, although I do not know how the logistics would work when you bring in political and social intervention. We know people are very hesitant to change their ways, especially when it doesn’t seem to benefit them.
First, increase the length of the school day so everyone has to participate in physical activity every day. Sure everyone had to work a little longer, but the pay off would be huge. Second, make it a requirement that all students must play a sport during the school year. Many private schools already make this a requirement and I do not see why it should be any different at the public school. Third, have your child participate in an activity outside of school. Whether it be a youth sport league or a youth training facility, make sure that they are getting the physical activity they need.
Just as important, if not more, make sure your children are learning good nutrition habits. You are the teacher and role model. Make good decisions about what you and your children are eating. Keep it simple; fill up on a lot of vegetables, protein, healthy fats and some high fiber fruit. If you are confused about what you should be eating, seek out a professional for help.
Let’s help get our next generation get headed in the right direction for a healthier, more enjoyable life. It all starts with developing physical activity and healthy eating habits at a young age.
SPU's Alex Drayson and Matt Migiano write the SPU Athletic Performance Blog.
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