Lowered Fitness Standards for Kids

This turkey’s expression shows exactly how I felt after hearing this story. Mhy / Pixabay

Yesterday, I’m minding my own business, waiting for a friend in our office lobby so we can go to lunch when I see the following from a friend on Facebook:

My Kid’s School (she used the actual name here): Where control of students’ bodies is so important that teachers repeatedly admonish the children for running… DURING THE ALL-SCHOOL TURKEY TROT

Okay, so that seems a bit crazy.  No running during the Turkey Trot?  But isn’t that… a race?  Nope, apparently the kids were supposed to keep it at a brisk walk.   Why?

According to one teacher, it was “because falling PE standards have these kids so out of shape that they’ll fall asleep in class this afternoon if they exert themselves by running this morning.” (My friend’s quote, not the teacher’s exact words.)

Well that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.  And I wonder if that’s honestly the real reason.  Because from what I understood about recess, for example, teachers loved sending the kids out to run around like crazy and burn off all of their extra energy.  On rainy days where kids had indoor recess, the teachers had to struggle to keep them focused in the afternoons.  (Isn’t this how kids work?  I don’t know – I have cats.  They sleep 22+ hours of the day.)

So I looked up the state’s Physical Education Standards.  And I remembered why I dislike government writing.  But this section was interesting:

Students will be provided an individualized, developmentally appropriate, and personally challenging instructional program that will advance the knowledge, confidence, skills, and motivation needed to engage in a lifelong, healthy, active lifestyle. With the increase in obesity nationwide, the benefits gained from physical activity include: disease prevention, decreased morbidity and premature mortality, and increased mental health and self-esteem. The benefits of physical education can also affect academic learning. Regular aerobic exercise produces an increased number of capillaries servicing the brain which allows for a greater exchange of nutrients and waste products. This optimizes oxygen and glucose delivery to the brain which can help improve brain performance.

From that, it sounds like running is a good thing!  Good for the body, good for general health, and actually helpful in academic learning.  So either we’re getting dumber AND lazier thanks to lowered fitness standards or this isn’t the real reason the school didn’t want the kids running.

But what other reasons could there be?  Not wanting kids to get hurt?  (Not wanting to risk a lawsuit?)  The need to be incredibly PC so that no kid wins or loses?  Or is the teacher right?  That our standards are so low that all the kids have gotten so out of shape that they can’t handle a fun run without needing a nap?

Don’t get me wrong, as a kid, I would not have been running.  Not fast, anyway.  I was not a great athlete in elementary school, but I definitely ran in PE (and was a master at dodgeball mostly because I just avoided getting hit).  But we were encouraged to run.  We were told to run.  I think we had a Presidential Fitness Test or something along those lines.  And these kids are told to NOT run?  No wonder as a nation, we’re getting fatter and lazier.  Not only because kids are encouraged to not run but because adults think this is okay.

I think maybe this school (and probably others) needs to take a second look at how these kids are being educated and where on the list of priorities we’re placing physical health.  No wonder we have a childhood obesity problem.

One thought on “Lowered Fitness Standards for Kids

  1. I love hearing the stories of teachers/schools who recognize the importance of physical education! There is one school in my province where they have put treadmills in the classroom and high school students start the day with a run and use treadmills for when they are feeling “unfocused” or elementary students who have 15 minute gym classes several times a day. Our bodies were made for movement!

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