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Getting a Jump on Good Health

As obesity rises and activity levels fall, many schools are trying new phys ed curricula

 

Remember how discouraging it was in gym class to always get stuck out in right field during softball games or to be the first one eliminated in dodge ball? Remember the embarrassment of futilely trying to do chinups or climb a rope in front of 30 other kids? For many adults, attitudes about physical fitness and health were shaped by demoralizing experiences in physical education (PE) class—a factor that may in part help explain that while athletes and models are idealized in the popular press, obesity and inactivity among the general population persist.

Now some schools are working with education and health researchers to implement new PE programs that are more engaging and exciting for all children. This development is fueled by a spate of recent studies showing that an increasing number of young people spend their free time gulping snacks or fast foods, watching TV, listening to CDs, surfing the Internet, and playing video games, rather than playing outdoors with friends.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article. Click here to become a subscriber.

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For Further Information

For Further Information

American School Health Association.

CATCH PE, Center for Health Promotion Research and Development, 7320 North Mopac, Suite 204, Austin, TX 78731.

Center for the Advancement of Health, 2000 Florida Ave., NW, Suite 210,Washington, DC 20009-1231.

C.B. Corbin. Fitness for Life. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley Longman, 1993.

Exemplary Physical Education Curriculum Project, Michigan Fitness Foundation, PO Box 27187, Lansing, MI 48909.

P. Gordon-Larsen, R.G. McMurray, and B.M. Popkin. "Determinants of Adolescent Physical Activity and Inactivity Patterns." Pediatrics 105, no. 6 (June 2000): e83.

J.J. Kronenfeld. Schools and the Health of Our Children: Protecting Our Future. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000.

National Association for Sport and Physical Education
, 1900 Association Dr., Reston, VA 20191.

PE Central.

J.F. Sallis, T.L. McKenzie et al. "Effects of Health-Related Physical Education on Academic Achievement: Project SPARK." Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 70, no. 2 (June 1999): 127–134.

SPARK Physical Education.