#motivationmonday #childhoodobesity #parents #obesity
Childhood obesity is not a new topic. It’s talked about on the news, internet, and in print media. Like a lot of issues, people like to think it does not apply to their family, students, or children. The fact is the opposite. It is everyone’s responsibility to teach healthy habits to our youth. Kids learn how to eat and lead a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle from parents and teachers. In giving seminars to PE teachers, we stress the importance of being the fitness and health role model just like math, social studies, and science teachers are the role models for those subjects. The role of PE teachers is changing from a sport coach to a group fitness instructor. Look at the PE standards coming out on a national and state level. They don’t emphasize teach kids how to play football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. Instead the standards emphasize movement and all around fitness. Remember, only .5% of youth who play sports actually make a living at it on a professional level. What about the 99.5% of us who have to get real jobs and figure out how to eat and exercise on our own?
The only way childhood obesity can be reduced and eliminated is by being the role model as parents and teachers for healthy, active lifestyle. It’s ok to enjoy vegging on the couch and having dessert/sweet treats, just not on a daily basis. Nobody wins when the whole family is sluggish, overweight, and inactive. PE teachers, are you active and making overall good choices to show your students? Can you perform the movements properly in teaching your classes? If a math teacher doesn’t know their long division, they do not stay math teachers long. If a PE teacher cannot demonstrate movements and be healthy, there is no penalty. That doesn’t seem right.
Children do not pay for food and put it in the grocery cart. Children also do not get paid to teach physical education and teach healthy habits. It does not take drastic changes, just small ones on a daily basis. Do not buy those cookies this week, instead buy fresh fruit. Set aside 20 minutes to get your own exercise in twice this week. Small changes lead to larger changes in time. Start small and work your way into big, the brain and body will guide you automatically. Your kids will thank you, I promise!
I was always the kid who raised their hand and wanted to be picked first to play any game in PE. Those that didn’t, I never understood why they showed no interest and ran away practically. Years and a 15 year old son later who is not an athlete, I know the benefits involved with overall physical development compared to only playing sports in PE. The unfortunate reality is teachers and coaches give more attention the the kids in PE who want to play sports. Why? Because teachers and coaches are human, and humans gravitate toward people with common interests. So how do we make a positive impact on childhood obesity and get the kids who aren’t interested in playing sports to participate? The answer is long term athletic develoment.
SHAPE America has developed standards around physical literacy that teach movement fundamentals before sports and sports specific skills. Not all states subscribe to this philosophy for PE, and with PE not a typically state tested subject, the initiative to get more kids involved is left to each individual teacher. Besides physical literacy and long term athletic development being a NATIONAL guideline, it really does make sense to including all students and not just the sports & active minded ones. Every child needs to learn how to control both sides of their body in a variety of environments. Whether they are in a pool, on a field, on the ice/snow, or in the air like gymnastics; controlling your body and having confidence in the related movements creates a healthier child. Less than 1% of kids become professional athletes, 99% of the population has to maintain their health as an adult to pay the bills and care for their families. Teaching healthy movements that lead to lifetime skills benefits everyone.
Part of what my company Movement Academy does, is give professional development seminars on LTAD to PE teachers. Our goal is to educate the educator so they can lay the foundation for a healthier and more active next generation. To have this goal occur, more education and accountability is needed. Test scores that reflect a knowledge of movement and not just participation are necessary to hold both students and teachers accountable. Talk to your teacher, principal, school board, and state leaders to make PE accountable not optional. The only negatives are reduced obesity, stroke, and heart disease in children and future adults. Learning movement before sports is the key to improving participation in PE and changing our next generation of adults.
Contact Matt Peale, who is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, at email@example.com, for any questions and comments.
When was the last time you noticed your child’s or any other child’s range of motion and flexibility? Have you noticed they have problems touching their toes or even ankles with straight legs? In addition to the obesity and sedentary epidemic, there has become a lack of muscle flexibility epidemic. In working with youth ages 8-13 on a regular basis, a large percentage of them male and female have horrible flexibility. Their lower back and hamstrings are so tight and underused they can barely stand on one foot much less bend at the waist to touch their foot. Ask a child to perform a sumo stretch as in the picture below and you will be astounded by what you see.
Flexibility is one of the core components of overall fitness. Yes, it is a use it or lose it skill. Children are more pliable than adults due to their bones still hardening as they mature and hit puberty. With kids sitting and starting at video screens more often, they are also losing range of motion that is extremely difficult to get back as an adult. Does this mean you have to enroll your child in Bikram Yoga? Absolutely not. What it does mean is teach your child some basic warm and cool down stretches as part of their sports and activities. Proper dynamic (in motion) stretching before movement, and static stretching after movement is completed.
While touching your toes is not an Olympic event unto itself, practicing flexibility movements does reduce injuries and is part of a healthy lifestyle. Take a few minutes with your students, children, and athletes to work on their stretches in good form. It’s the habits we instill in them now that change our next generation.
Matt Peale has seen his fair share of kids have the flexibility of a 70 year old as an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out Learn To Move Academy for your school and sports organization.