Fat, Fit or What?

Fat or fit, does that have to be the choice? Last Friday’s USA Today had a front page story on the sad state of the recruits entering the military. One third of the 18 year olds who applied for service in all branches of the military were overweight. Between 1996 and 2006 the applicants considered obese doubled to 6%. In speaking with people who have worked with army recruits they report that the rate of stress fractures in recruits as high as 50%. Should we be alarmed, yes we should. We do not have to worry about terrorist attacks, if they wait a few years we will just eat ourselves into oblivion! This is a huge problem (no pun intended) that permeates all levels of society. Unfortunately there are no simple solutions. Ironically the poor state of fitness of military recruits before WWII was considered a problem. Because it was recognized as a problem and there were mechanisms in place to deal with it, the top experts in physical education were gathered and the physical education curriculums were revised to raise the level of demand to better prepare the youth for the war on the horizon. We certainly need a national initiative of concerned people to reverse this alarming trend. Unfortunately we are not teaching physical education as a discipline in the colleges and universities because it is not requirement in the secondary and elementary schools so there are no jobs, so we are not training the teachers who can go out and lead. The curriculums that are in place in the schools leave much to be desired. The so called “new PE” does not get the job done. It appears the goal of the “new PE” is to keep the kids happy and not stress them. We must step back and be realistic. In the same vain on March 27, Charlie Crist, the new governor of Florida, proposed that the Florida institute a mandatory 30 minutes of physical education a day. That is fine, but how will it be implemented? Who will teach it? That is the clincher. A clue was the advisory board that he named. It contained all professional athletes, not one educator! I am convinced and this certainly confirmed my convictions that we do not need politicians involved in this. We need educators who understand what must be done. PE is an integral part of the educational process. Studies have consistently shown that children who move and participate in vigorous activities do better in school and have less behavioral issues in the classroom. We need to start a grassroots revolution among people who are concerned. I have given this much thought and I am not sure how, but it must be done. Talk is cheap, we need a call to action to get kids fit for life!


At 4/3/07, 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


So, I finish your post, go to my local paper and what do I find? An article about a phy ed teacher who raised reading scores by connecting academics to physical education and activity. No politicians needed, just out of the box thinking by someone who understands kids, learning and his field. There is hope out there. We gotta find ways to encourage and spread it. The link to the story: http://www.startribune.com/332/story/1093614.html

Tim Clark

At 4/3/07, 3:57 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

"We need educators who understand what must be done."

I have a slightly different twist - the parents need to be educated and model for their children. It's like the old saying, "posture is 24-7" and so is eating healthy and thus, it has to start at home...

Todd Langer

At 4/3/07, 6:45 PM, Blogger jbeyle said...

You are both on the money. Here is another issue. In my school, it is common to pull the kids who are struggling out of PE to focus more on their academics. That puts things into perspective, huh?

At 4/3/07, 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm with you all the way. i am working with a soccer club right now and the director of coaching and I are working to put together a program that starts with U9 and U10 players and parents working together on basic fitness, movement and balance on the field. Its a systemic challenge so we start where we can and keep looking for opportunities to expand.

TIm Clark

At 4/4/07, 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No argument here ! Let’s look at different perspectives why our PE is degrading. It makes my head spin when I hear parents suing an elementary school because their child breaks an ankle during recess…or falling off the monkey bars…worse…sprain an ankle during GYM period. What’s an administrator to do? Let’s dumb down our PE program. Better yet...let's just read during gym period. See...it's productive afterall.



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