Even though studies are showing that exercise is essential to maintaining a long, healthy life, most Americans still are not getting enough physical activity. And for the children who grew up in this modern era, getting the exercise isn’t any easier. The following statistics illustrate children’s physical inactivity:
- Children in the United States are less fit today than children living in the United States a generation ago.
- At least half of youth do not engage in physical activity that promotes long-term health.
- On average, children spend 17 hours a week watching television.
- Less than 25 percent of school-age children get 20 minutes of vigorous daily physical activity.
Moreover, inactivity in youth can partly be attributed to reductions in school P.E. programs and unavailable community recreational facilities. When budgets are tight, administrators are often forced to cut physical education classes. Unfortunately, many of the classes where children should learn movement and build lifetime habits have been reduced or eliminated.
- Illinois is the only state that requires daily physical education for students grades K-12.
- Fewer than 50 percent of U.S. schools offer P.E. classes.
- Only seven states require elementary P.E. teachers to be certified.
- Recess has been eliminated in many elementary schools.
This rise in inactivity comes with a cost. The following statistics illustrate the consequences of sedentary behavior:
- Compared to active children, inactive children have higher blood pressure levels.
- Inactive children are more likely to become inactive adults.
- The process leading to heart attack and stroke begins in childhood.
- A fitness-testing program shows children are getting slower and weaker.
An article in Newsweek explains the need for physical education. Judy Young, executive director of the National Association for Sports and Physical Education said,
“We need to convince parents and school boards that P.E. has evolved. It can be a valuable part of a child’s development. With the rising rates of obesity, it can also save their lives.”Judy Young
The benefits of consistent daily activity are tremendous. Exercise can reduce heart disease, control weight, improve blood cholesterol levels, prevent bone loss, boost energy, help manage stress, delay or prevent chronic illness, manage high blood pressure, release tension and improve self-image.
Furthermore, physical activity can increase concentration and reduce disruptive behavior, and it can lead to improved mathematics, reading and writing test scores. A study conducted by Georgia’s Department of Education showed a link between academic scores and physical fitness in Georgia’s public schools.
“It makes great common sense to physical educators that active, physically fit children will perform better academically.”Executive Director, The National Association for Sport and Physical Education
The goal of Community Fitness and Education (CFEI) is to inspire America’s youth to become active so they can experience the benefits of regular exercise. Through its Fitness Training Workshop, the organization is providing Health and Wellness Physical Education Centers to elementary and secondary schools across the nation. CFEI hopes students will use the Program to develop healthy habits that will last their entire lives.