Champion recess, playgrounds, and physical education over homework

Surmountable Social Issues
Feb 11, 2023
5 min read
Good habits come from recess and physical education classes / iStock

Issue 55 • Week of February 5, 2023 / Updated May 14, 2023

The US stands alone in the developed world as American children are now expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

This travesty did not warrant a mention in the recent State of the Union address even as American life expectancy has now reached levels not seen since 1996. Yet it has been falling since 2014, proving that COVID-19, opioid addiction, and the cost of our healthcare cannot be the only factors in this decline. Heart disease and cancer still outpace these new threats to public health.

Many habits, including the physical activity that can help stave off these health problems, are formed early. We must look back beyond our diets and food policy to the early environments we grow up in on the playground during recess and the fitness training we receive through physical education.

Unfortunately, the website of the preeminent authority for US health and physical education teachers has been offline for two weeks with its national conference less than two months away. It is a slap in the face to pioneers of physical education such as the Round Hill School in Massachusetts that was the first in America to fully embrace the subject two centuries ago this year – and a symbol for the crisis that we are passing onto kids today who are expected to be the most obese generation ever.

How did our fitness fall so far and how can we recover?

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