One out of three American kids are obese. This rate has nearly tripled in the past thirty years. According to the Medical Dictionary, obesity is an abnormal accumulation of body fat, twenty percent or more over an individual’s ideal body weight for their age and height. As we know obesity can lead to horrible things such as illness, disability, and death. To put a stop to obesity we need to start educating kids at a younger age, considering their rate is skyrocketing. Children need to be more aware of obesity, the facts and statistics, and how to avoid it and be healthy. Our job as a teacher is to promote physical activity in a classroom on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we cannot control what our students do for exercise at home or what they eat, but we can control what goes on in our classrooms, and that is the best place to start.
One way to promote physical activity in a classroom is using pedometers. Pedometers are devices that can count each step you take by detecting the motion of a person’s hip. This is a device you can use to actually record the amount of physical activity your students can encounter in a school day. The best way to use these is to set up activities, games, and competitions in your classroom. You can ask questions like, who has took the most steps today? Or, Are the students more active than the teacher? A little competition might spike up the children’s physical activity, instead of taking a short cut to lunch, they might take a longer route just to add more steps to there pedometer. Little situations like this make a difference. Another activity you could do is, see how many steps it takes your students to walk a mile. Then have an activity labeled: How many steps would it take to walk across America? They can calculate how many steps it takes them to walk a mile then multiply it by how many miles it would take to get to California. These are just a few activities you can do with pedometers that would promote physical activity throughout your classroom that I found while reading Promoting Physical Health and Activity in the Classroom.
Another great way to implement physical activity in a classroom is to have a “daily rule”. Examples of a daily rule would be, “If you need a drink, walk to the water fountain backwards” or “If you have to sharpen your pencil, must walk tip toed to the pencil sharpener”, or “You must touch your toes five times before you sit in your desk”. Sure this may seem very silly and sometimes distracting, but it is a simple solution to promoting physical activity throughout a classroom.
We all have days in a classroom where the students just WILL NOT pay attention. Times like this is when you bring out a fun and quick activity to get their mind off whatever they are studying – breaks are always needed. Some ideas for a break time to implement physical activity include, pencil jumps. Have students get out of their desk, place pencil on the floor, and jump over it a designated number of times. Gives them a quick break and some physical activity to get them going. If you need to go into more depth than just a quick 1-minute break – here is something more fun. We all remember doing the hokey pokey as a little kid! Turn on the hokey pokey and do a 3-minute dance. The hokey pokey is fun and without even knowing you are doing some stretching and working on your physical activity. We all know students need little breaks during the day, but if you collaborate these breaks with some physical education and activity, it would be very beneficial for the students. Students pay attention and stay away from being lethargic, when they get to move around in a classroom (Haines, 1).
Another way to promote physical activity is to provide extracurricular physical activity programs. Sure there may be the school basketball and baseball team, but what about the kids that get cut? More activities for after school are needed. Teachers and parents need to come together in the community and establish appropriate clubs and intramural activities that are competitive and non competitive to attract all types of kids. Walking clubs, in-line skating, jumping rope, water aerobics, and intramural swim teams provide a few examples (Summerfield, 1). Ways you can promote these extracurricular activities are to include them in the school news and announcements, send out flyers, and have the information posted around the community.
Implementing physical activity in classroom may not be enough. America as a country is the leader in obesity throughout the entire world. This is a very sad but true situation that our society has became a part of. Obesity throughout our country is a very serious case that deserves more attention from our leaders in society. Specific standards need to be set for our young upcoming adults that require a certain amount of physical activity or a specific diet. We can achieve results by taking the necessary steps in our schools cafeteria by serving different meal selections that limit our kids to healthier lunches. Members of our government need to step up and make these actions mandatory. School officials base decisions off money, which could be a strong cause of our obesity throughout the country. Our schools are serving unhealthy meals to our children. Changing the standards on what is being served throughout schools will have a significant impact on our societies obesity rate.
Childhood obesity only leads to adult obesity. A study has shown that children, who became obese at early age of 2, have turned into obese adults (CDC, 1). If teachers help promote physical activity in their classroom these rates will go down. Learning about healthy life style habits which include eating healthy and participating in physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and all of the related risks that come along with it (CDC, 1). Schools should be establishing a healthy and safe environment that practices becoming healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. Providing opportunities for kids to excel in physical activity is one way we can lower the rate of obesity.