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HEALTH: Make recess a priority for schools

Letter by Beth Woodbury Hart, Puyallup on Nov. 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm | No Comments »
November 19, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: “Boys join unhealthy body craze” (TNT, 11-19).

The obsession with muscle-building isn’t new; boys have always wanted to look like their heroes. “Champ,” a Norman Rockwell painting from 1922, shows a scrawny teenager clutching his barbells while peering at a poster of a massive weightlifter.

What is new is the availability of steroids, which should be treated as the dangerous drugs they are. Social pressures have also increased. Educators and parents put far too much emphasis on precociousness and early achievement. They want kids to hurry up, grow up, master college skills, become star athletes, choose majors, choose careers and even slap themselves with sexual labels – all before they turn 18. Ridiculous!

It’s time to slow down and help kids grow naturally, encouraging good habits while protecting them from excessive behaviors.

For increasing brain power and living a long, healthy life, aerobic activity is far more important than weight training. Aerobic exercise also helps memory retention, especially as people grow older. Sitting, on the other hand, causes fat to grow around the heart – and bodies don’t know the difference between sitting at a desk and sitting in front of the TV.

Recess should be a top priority in the public schools. Not team sports, recess – letting kids play games and run around in the open air. You want to improve test scores? Get students and teachers outside!

Parents, educators and community leaders need to make a more concerted effort to nurture children and give them what they need, not what’s expedient or ego-building for adults.

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