The lack of Physical Activity, in the United States
A deficit in physical activity is a problem
The problem starts young. One in three children are physically active every day.(Fitness.gov) This leads to adults not being physical active. And a lack of being active leads to a variety of health problems that can be easily avoided by doing what comes natural to humans. Moving and burning some energy.
Getting children started young with doing active things will make them more likely to do it throughout their lives. When young people are put through PE classes and regularly participate in a variety of different sorts of things will give them the tools and helpfully build their desire to be active.
If they aren't taught how to be active, they are less likely to be active. The fact that only one in three kids are active everyday, shows that this is a problem right now and needs to be addressed.
A problem that will probably only continue to get worse, unless steps are taken to address the problem. Steps that will turn around the statistical tendency of children to be non-active.
Parents need to encourage it
Parents and adults in general should encourage kids to be physically active in some form or another every single day. If parents or other adults aren't actively encouraging physically activity, they will be much less likely to make the healthy choice of being physically active.
There are programs that are designed to encourage kids to go and do like the "Play 60" group, but I argue that more should be done. Getting children to be mobile should be prioritized as much as reading is. There is no lack of reading programs and teaching tools provided to educators to help their students learn how to read and to improve that skill.
There is an utter lack of the same types of things for students to development in the psychomotor domain. They may have a better chance to learn to read and that's a great thing, but they also need to learn how to be healthy so they can not only have the skills to get the jobs they want in the future, but also have the ability to maintain their health while in pursuit of those goals.
Physical Education can help
Physical education is a class that is being downgraded and cut in many schools. There is a lack of emphasis on this class and it the effects from this not emphasis is manifesting itself in the inactivity problem that is plaguing the U.S. right now.
By increasing the prevalence and development of these kinds of classes, children will have the tool to make more healthy choices with how they treat their bodies.If students in physical education classes become more physically active, it could have a benefit that is greater than just for themselves.
Parents can also be helped to be more physically active if their children get them to do things with them. Parents should go out with their kids to play catch, kick a ball around, or shoot baskets.
Part of the way that this can be encouraged is by giving physical education students homework in their classes. Homework to do a variety of exercise, mobile, and/or moving tasks outside of class. Of course, the specifics of what they would need to do would be spelled out in the specific homework assignment, but the general idea is to get students to do stuff outside of class. As it is with every other subject.
The sure way to make sure that these classes don't have a positive effect is to cut and limit them to limit any effect they could ever have.
Moving should be encouraged for everyone
The government can take a much more active role in encouraging people to get up and move. They could be much more aggressive in terms of tax credit for people who take steps to be healthy.
If someone has a gym membership, they are much more likely to go workout in one than someone who doesn't have one.
The government could also do a better job of creating educational programs that provide federal funding for school programs that encourage physical activity. There is a lot more funding for academic areas that focus on math, science, and reading. Physical education should be on that list of "core" classes.
But instead, we see more and more schools cutting out physical education, or giving exemptions. If students don't leave school with the skills to be physically active, they are much more likely to not be physically active. And when they aren't, their health will suffer.
And when their health suffers, we all suffer with them because of the increased cost of medical care there is for people who aren't active.
Walking is something that is a great physical activity and one that can easily be encouraged for nearly every population of people. Local governments can help to encourage this form of activity by building sidewalks throughout their cities.
More people are more likely to walk or run if there are a complete roadway of sidewalks. I find in that in most cities I'm in, there are many roads where sidewalks are either not present or in disrepair. And in the winter, it's even worse.
It's nearly impossible to use any of the sidewalks on a lot of days in the winter because they are covered with snow and ice. Although, it's hard to walk places on a lot of the days in the winter, especially in Ohio, it would still be possible if the sidewalks were clear. It would also help for the people that need to walk if they had clear and safe sidewalks to use.
It's a small thing, but one that can give people jobs (building the sidewalks, cleaning, etc.) and help give people an easier way to be active throughout the year. Maybe people wouldn't use them if they were available, but they can't use them now when they are covered with ice or non-existence.
A new culture of habit
Probably the biggest change that needs to happen is the culture of the United States. It's something that is going to take a while to change, but something that hopefully will.
A change of culture of how the general population will be the biggest way to change how people how value physical activity. If being active becomes the norm thing to do, more and more people will do it. It won't be something that people won't have to think about doing more, it will just be natural to be active.
Walking around, leisure activities, or sports will be things that will be done all the time and will help to make everyone more healthy.
Unfortunately, in America, the culture is quite the opposite. It is a normal activity to have a meal and sit down and watch TV. People will sit around and play video games all day long without hardly moving from their sit.
Although, video games, TV, and other forms of entertainment are not inherently bad things to tame part it, they tend to be non-active activities that take up most of the time of people's days. I don't think people need to worry about losing some TV time in order to be active for a small part of their day.
I don't think I'm advocating for anything to earth shattering. Being active isn't something that has to be expensive or cost anything at all. It is something that can make you feel better from a physical and mental standpoint.