I’ll be honest. I am a fan of Title IX legislation. I benefitted from it as a teenager, participating in small-scale sports of cross-country and track. Certainly without the push to equalize opportunites for girls and boys, there would not have been funding for the sports I loved. And my interest in fitness has obviously carried over into adulthood, becoming an integral part of who I am.
Several years ago, the New York Times published an article about the benefits of participating in sports as youths. The article cites a study that rigorously assessed the socio-economic backgrounds of youths across the US and linked their success to participation in organized sports. Sure, we have long touted the intangible benefits of being part of a sports team– character building, teamwork, and feeling part of a something larger than the individual– but the study takes things a step further to demonstrate that kids who participate in sports also go on to higher education, have fewer incidences of negative life-changing events like drug use or teen pregnancy, and higher levels of meaningful employment.
It was timely for me to re-read this article, as I volunteered recently in my son’s elementary PE class. Not only was I impressed by the coach’s arsenal of activities to keep the kids moving, but he worked hard to really educate the children at the same time. For example, rather than just playing a simple game of tag, the kids played “muscle group tag”: when a child was tagged (by me or the other parent volunteer), s/he had to freeze and take a pose to show off a particular muscle group. To be unfrozen and join the game again, a classmate had to stop in front of the frozen child, make the same pose, and name the muscle group the frozen child was demonstrating. In the course of the 6-8 minutes the kids played the game, there were shouts of biceps, triceps, pectoralis, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. What a great way to get kids moving, teach them about their bodies, and have a blast while doing it.
As a personal trainer, I know that having fun with fitness is the key to adhering to an exercise program. I applaud our school’s coach– and the thousands of others like him around the country– who work hard every day to educate and encourage our children to a fit lifestyle. With news reports that frequently remind us that recess and PE are being slashed from the school day, it’s important for parents to know what is happening at their child’s school. Does your child’s PE program have an Open Door policy? Encourage one!
After 45 minutes of fun-filled, fast-paced physical education the kids recited a poem (with motions, of course) in unison. It was awesome to hear and watch 22 kids so enthusiastically deliver a lesson that we can all benefit from, whether our fitness journey started as a child, a teen, or an adult:
Eat right. Stay fit.
Work hard. Never quit!
Brain wise. Safety smart.
Live strong for a healthy heart!