Sunday, November 13, 2005

Fit Happens (Or Maybe Not)

I had the great fortune of attending a convention of physical education teachers recently. And I really mean that; it was refreshing to see there are PE teachers out there trying to get young people enthused about good physical health, being fit and learning new motor skills. I will have to admit I often lamented PE class in high junior high, even as an athlete. But these people were into physical health and they were TRYING to do better for their students; I really admire that.

The booth next to ours had a number of fun t-shirts: Got Sweat, Yes We ARE Dressing Out Today and Fit Happens, etc. The Fit Happens shirt is a cool play on words, but it made me think that when it comes to physical health, fit does NOT just happen. It takes effort and education. It takes sweat. It takes hard work to keep yourself physically healthy and fit.

One of the more disappointing exhibits at the convention was some video game that had you stand (or lean on the support post behind you!) and use isometric pushing, pulling and sidebending "movements" to manipulate the image on the screen. I HAD to take a picture of this thing. I did try it to make sure I knew what was going on, but as I attempted to control the plane I was flying I just got more and more aggravated. IT THIS WHAT PEOPLE NOW THINK OF AS EXERCISE ????? DO WE HAVE TO HAVE A TELEVISION OR VIDEO SCREEN IN FRONT OF US--ESPECIALLY KIDS--TO GET THEM TO DO ANYTHING PHYSICAL??

Of course the kids loved it. They easily melded with the system and had a blast. More video games to develop hand/body-eye coordination; but no stimulation to develop full body proprioception or kinesthetic awareness. Pretty soon no American child will move at all, except to carry giant backpacks filled with their laptops. They won't run and jump or even read a book or write with a pen or pencil. They will learn, play, communicate and entertain themselves via an LCD screen. Beneficial interaction with people, gravity, their own body and other objects in the world will be reduced to little or nothing.

Perhaps the woman in the American Diabetes Association is right when she tells me that 1 in 3 American children born in the year 2000 will develop either type I or type II diabetes.