Health of children shouldn’t slide

 

Minutes really do make a difference. The state of California
requires students to receive 200 minutes of physical education for
every 10 days of school. Because the state’s rules have no
teeth
– there’s no penalty for ignoring it – Hollister School District
students are miserably out of shape.
Minutes really do make a difference. The state of California requires students to receive 200 minutes of physical education for every 10 days of school. Because the state’s rules have no teeth – there’s no penalty for ignoring it – Hollister School District students are miserably out of shape.

Less than 18 percent of fifth-graders passed all six of the state’s fitness standards and just a little more than 45 percent passed five of the six fitness standards.

Also, 46 percent of the district’s fifth-graders were not in the healthy fitness zone deemed by the state for aerobic capacity and 47 percent of seventh-graders didn’t reach the fitness zone for body composition.

But there’s a larger problem here. San Benito County has one of the worst childhood obesity rates in the state, and the reduction of physical education in our elementary schools, especially, has been cited as one of the reasons our nation is experiencing an obesity epidemic.

According to a 2000 report on promoting physical activity among youth from the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Education to then-President Bill Clinton, “… physical inactivity has contributed to an unprecedented epidemic of childhood obesity that is currently plaguing the United States. The percentage of young people who are overweight has doubled since 1980.”

Obesity is a serious health issue. It’s associated with higher risks of many diseases – including heart disease, stroke and diabetes – and shorter life spans.

Just like all habits, good or bad, it’s important to hook kids on physical fitness when they’re young. One of the very best ways to do that is with regular, high-quality physical education classes in schools.

“All children, from prekindergarten through grade 12, should participate in quality physical education classes every school day,” the physical activity in youth report states. “The importance of making physical education fun was illustrated by a national survey of students in grades 4-12, which found that enjoyment of physical education class was one of the most powerful factors associated with participation in physical activity outside of school.”

Giving students sufficient time to work off their daily school stress during P.E. will teach them that physical activity is a great way to reduce tension, and perhaps discourage other less healthful stress relievers – from computer and video games and television to smoking, drinking and drugs – that they might try instead.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Increasing physical fitness will also help students academically, studies show. Higher levels of physical fitness are associated with higher academic achievement at all grade levels.

It’s well past time for a change. Parents should ensure the district provides at least the state-mandated minimum amount of physical education instruction each week. Physical education teachers should keep the pressure on district officials to restore P.E. instruction time. If it means lengthening the school day, then HSD officials should add 30 minutes to the schedule each day.

The health and education of Hollister children are too important to let this issue slide.

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