Should Physical Education and Recess be Implemented in Schools to Reduce Childhood Obesity?

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by Emily Furley

All I can hear is the whispers crawling up my back, which is forcefully sinking into my ears. I can see all of the girls staring at me in the hallways. They didn’t notice my hair or get to know my sweet personality. What they really saw was the excessive fat on my body that was hiding beneath my large to extra large clothing. I felt ugly; I couldn’t look at myself. Depression had sunk into my entire body. Everyday I wished that all of the whispers and staring would disappear.

Currently, childhood obesity is a major problem that is affecting the children of the United States of America. Jenna Riis, who has a doctorate degree from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, states, “Childhood obesity is a significant public health problem affecting nearly 17% of American youth. Obese children are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emotional psychological problems”(Riis 111). Considering the severity of the health problems resulting from childhood obesity, seventeen percent is a substantial amount of children affected. Actions must be implemented in order to decrease the percentage to an acceptable level. If I had known all of the health problems that can arise from being overweight, I would have taken care of my body. Therefore, the United States government should implement physical education and recess in schools for K-12 grade levels in order to reduce childhood obesity.

One solution that can reduce children from becoming overweight is many physical education teachers have changed their curriculum, so that the students can get involved and be active. Jacque Wilson, a health writer for CNN says there has been a shift in the kinds of activities that are being taught in PE class. Physical education teachers are now implementing activities such as ping-pong or rock climbing into their classes for their students. For example, Matthew Pomeroy, who is a PE teacher at Merton Intermediate School in Merton, Wisconsin states, “I’m trying to find that environment where they can find that one lifelong activity. All those different things that kids can kind of be engaged in and enjoy”(qtd. in Wilson par. 7, 8). This illustrates that physical education teachers are trying to find an activity that a child will love so that they become active and stick with it. Physical education teachers can inspire students by being a good role model and encouraging them to reach their goals especially regarding their weight loss goals. My physical education teacher from high school needs to be like Matthew Pomeroy, which is someone that actually cares about his or her students overall health and the activities that they enjoy. My teacher didn’t care about what we did during class. All he did was sit in a chair and read a newspaper. If he would have cared and made his students active, my weight wouldn’t have drastically increased.

There are many benefits of having recess time in schools not only for younger students but also for older students. Along with the physical importance of recess, having recess has proved to be beneficial for academic and cognitive reasons, along with social emotional reasons for children. Specialists Catherine L. Ramstetter, Robert Murray and Andrew S. Garner who have studied children that are overweight states, “Although not all children play vigorously at recess, it does provide opportunity for children to be active in the mode of choosing to practice movement and motor skills, and to engage in interactions with their peers”(Ramstetter, Murry, and Garner 522). By having recess, children also benefit academically. Ramstetter, Murry, and Garner explain that children are productive in the classroom when they have had a break away from schoolwork for a period of time. As for the social and emotional benefits of having recess for children, children learn how to socialize by role-play and communicating with their classmates. Also recess allows children to relieve stress that has been building up from the previous morning at school (Ramstetter, Murry, and Garner 519, 522). If a child is stressed then this may lead to over eating, which will increase their weight. Therefore, recess is needed so it relieves stress. These authors prove that there are many benefits for having recess during the school day, which is needed for all children that attend schools around the United States.

In order to decrease and stop the occurrence of childhood obesity, these strategies need to be taken seriously. The United States should implement physical education and recess in schools for K-12 grade levels in order to reduce children becoming overweight. The whispers and staring wouldn’t stop, it continued day after day. The negative thoughts just kept racing over and over in my mind. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to change; the heaviness on my body had to go. By my senior prom, I had lost twenty pounds. I wore a large or extra large and shrunk down to a small or medium size clothing. All of that extra fat on my body had finally disappeared. Those negative thoughts were out of my head for good. The whispers and staring had become positive comments sinking into my ears. I felt accomplished and the happiness beamed off of my face. The children or teens who are overweight need to experience this exact same feeling instead of being ashamed and feeling guilty. Physical education and recess is very important to have in a child or teen’s life, especially for those who are battling with childhood obesity.

As a future educator, I will help every student that comes my way. Whether they need help with their schoolwork or are having problems at home, I will always be there no matter what. I will go above and beyond in order to help children who are overweight. I want to help them become healthy and watch them succeed in their education. I don’t ever want to watch a child go through the miserable pain that I had to.

Works Cited

Ramstetter, Catherine L., Robert Murray, and Andrew S. Garner. “The Crucial Role Of Recess In Schools.” Journal Of School Health 80.11 (2010): 517-526. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Feb. 2014.

Riis, Jenna, et al. “State School Policies And Youth Obesity.” Maternal & Child Health Journal 16.(2012): 111-118. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

Wilson, Jacque. “Not your mama’s gym class.” CNN Health. N.p., 1 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.

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7 thoughts on “Should Physical Education and Recess be Implemented in Schools to Reduce Childhood Obesity?

  1. Recess is important for the health of our youth. It can have many benefits for not only physical fitness, but mental fitness also.

  2. I think that physical education in our school is VERY important. I love that you really made it personal with your own experience with obesity! Great blog and great evidence supporting your side. I hope that as you start teaching children you help them find a physical activity they love to do, to keep them suffering the same experience! Good luck!

  3. Physical education is important in schools. It is important for children to get physical activity. It is healthy for their mind and body. It will help form good habits in their adult life so they will continue to stay physically active.

  4. Physical education is so important, especially starting at a young age. If we can make young ones think that it’s an important thing and that some sort of it should be done daily then we won’t have such a problem motivating people to move when they’re older. I think schools would suffer many problems if they got rid of physical education and recess.

  5. Physical education is very important. The inclusion of physical education in schools does not only ensure a sound mind and body but also it helps to raise an active generation. Your visual is very creative.

  6. I would assume most of us would say that recess through grade school for us was beneficial. Especially towards our health. It gave me the opportunity to make more friends and boost my social skills as well as kept me active during school hours in the games that we would play such as football, baseball, or tag. I also think it is a necessary break in-between classes and helps the children focus more as they get back into the swing of class.

  7. I really like how you took a different approach at curing childhood obesity than just simply stating that they should eat less fast food. I always liked gym class in elementary school but once I got to high school I noticed that most of the kids that didn’t want to participate just sat on the side and watched everyone else play. If my school would have done a better job at adding a variety of activities like the gym teacher from Wisconsin is trying to do then I think more people would have gotten involved and participated more.

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