PE: The Solution to America’s Health Crisis?

Kids at RecessUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of decades, you are well aware that America is having a health crisis. Every year, our nation pays $320 billion to treat cardiovascular disease and stroke. Every year, we pay $300 billion to treat Type 2 Diabetes. While the causes of these diseases are diverse and can’t just be limited to one thing, the vast majority of these cases could be treated, mitigated, and even prevented with proper diet and exercise.

Inactivity has been called the new epidemic. In fact, some studies show that a sedentary lifestyle is even more damaging to your health than smoking. More people die each year from health effects of a lack of movement and exercise than do from the many health problems caused by smoking.

What’s the Fix?

The problems has gotten out of control, and it’s hard to see how we can make changes as adults who are already confronting these health problems.

However, we should be able to find a solution for our children.

Obesity among children has doubled in the last 20 years, and among adolescents, it’s tripled. 80% of the children in the US are at risk for health problems that are related to inactivity. And yet, there’s never been a time in our history when we’ve put less priority on the solution!

Physical Education Is at an All-Time Low

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that youth and teens participate in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.  According to the CDC, only 29% of high school students receive daily physical education. Each year we are seeing numbers drop more and more when it comes to the number of children and youth who are involved in physical activities in and outside of school.

In an attempt to cut education budgets, many schools have dropped PE altogether. Even schools who still have physical education programs are getting by with less than $1000 a year budgeted. To make matters even worse, many schools are cutting back on, and even eliminating, recess, arguing that this leaves more time and resources for academic work. It’s obvious that even though physical activity has been proven to improve academic performance, it’s being given shamefully low priority in our public schools.

Benefits of Exercise

Just in case we need to enumerate the many benefits of exercise, here’s a list:

  • Exercise – even a minimal amount – greatly reduces your risk of diverse health problems; cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and also things we don’t hear about as often, like vision problems and gum disease.
  • Exercise boosts mood and can even counter severe mental illness like depression and schizophrenia.
  • Exercise leads to better interpersonal skills among children, making for healthier communities and more opportunities for that child in the future.

Physical Education Benefits Individuals for Life

The real question, perhaps, is whether physical education actually has a positive impact on habits and lifestyle beyond the classroom (or gym or field). The answer is yes! Adults who had PE classes are twice as likely to live active lifestyles. A taste of the benefits of physical activity when we’re young will carry on into our lives as we grow.  Even higher results are shown if a physical education program teachers principles about health and fitness and allows students to practice self-management skills.  This is exactly the kind of program students can find at Carone Learning– PE that is personalized to their needs and interests where they learn the skills and principles they need to be successful for life.

If your child isn’t benefiting from a physical education program, they’re missing out. You can change that with Carone Learning. Check out our options for online physical education courses that can give your child a healthy foundation for a lifetime.