Chaya Lebovic in her article “A Call for Action, Literally” (December 5, 2019) brought up a very important issue affecting our children. This is the lack of adequate physical activity in our kids’ lives. She stresses the importance of physical activity in relation to both the emotional and physical well being of kids. She also states her concerns regarding the insufficient time for physical activity built into our kids’ schedules. I am hoping that practical steps can be taken in our schools and our home lives to transform her words into concrete positive changes. She states the minimum time recommended for children to engage in physical activity is 60 minutes a day with greater than 60 minutes equaling greater benefits. Kids usually have two 15-minute recesses at school and much of their evening is taken up by homework. We need to question if most kids are getting even the minimum amount of physical activity. For goodness sake, prisoners get around two hours a day to be active in the outdoor yard.
We know all the benefits that physical activity has on our kids so lets be proactive in bringing about change. What can we do? Every parent needs to advocate for their child by reaching out to their kid’s school to extend recess and to allow for more movement-based activities in the classroom. If there is pushback in regards to the curriculum needing to be completed, the response should be that my child’s emotional and physical health are top priority. In a time where our community (and the whole country) is dealing with an extreme rise in childhood anxiety and depression, research has proven that physical activity and time in fresh air help to combat symptoms of these mental illnesses. Recess should never be taken away from a child as a punishment just like one would never take away their food for lunch. Recess is like food for their bodies and is a basic human right for them as individuals.
How about suggesting to administrators that they have one evening a week that no homework is given, and that it can instead serve as a time for families to enjoy physical activity together. When the weather is nice, the possibilities are endless––biking, throwing a ball at the park, playground time, etc. are examples of activities that promote physical fitness. Even a dark wintery evening still has lots of possibilities. Kids can play games such as Twister or Hullabaloo inside. They can turn on music and dance, take flashlights and go for a walk around the block. Besides increasing physical movement, this is also an opportunity for parents and their kids to enjoy sharing in a fun activity together.
What else can be done in our homes to encourage our kids to be more active? Model an active lifestyle. Our kids don’t need to see us training for a marathon, but by taking a walk, shooting hoops at the park or enjoying a short hike in nature, we become role models to our children.
While these suggestions might sound trivial and commonsensical, the reality is that our children are not receiving the adequate amount of physical activity and the repercussions are grave.Name Withheld on Request