After years of working as a juvenile probation officer in South Carolina, Zakiya Esper became increasingly alarmed by the gap in support services for the teens she served...
Americans Are Sitting Down on Activities
You are probably reading this at your desk, on your couch, in your bed, or in a form of transportation, and what you are doing right now is the issue. You are sitting still. The average American adult does not meet the minimum national exercise guidelines, according to the C.D.C. In fact, only 20% of adults meet this movement mark. The minimum guideline for an adult, age 18 and over, includes “2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging, or a combination of both,” according to a press release on the C.D.C.’s website. There are many motivations to get moving: it helps your heart, your weight, your blood pressure, and even can help prevent osteoporosis. Yet still, most Americans opt out of moving, even the minimum amount in a week.
Six years ago in 2010, several private and public organization came together to make a plan to help with this issue. According to the New York Times, the plan looked to make recommendations that school children be given frequent physical activity. Currently, only eight states in the country require recess as a part of a student’s daily routine at school. The recommendations also included a way for companies to reduce the amount of time their employees sit on the job, pushed to see cities make use of parks, and give easier access to bike paths and other open spaces for people to participate in activities. There has been hardly any increase in activity since these recommendations have been made, and it’s not just the lack of activity that is concerning.
Mayo Clinic released a health study that showed fewer than 3% of adults in America incorporate a healthy eating plan into their daily life. A healthy eating plan is considered a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, no smoking, and a normal body weight, along with regular work-outs.
But the issue is not just found with American adults. Children need to move more as well, and that tends to start in the school environment. Children should have at least a full hour of physical activity every day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And some schools in S.C. are taking notice on how it affects brain function for children and their ability to retain information. Charleston County School District is implementing programs into daily school routines. According to an article in The Washington Post, the school has “advanced P.E.” programs where kids learn in a way that allows them to be active. Yoga programs are offered, and students can be found sitting on desks that also double as work-out equipment. It’s all a part of the plan to introduce physical activity into a daily structure for children. The school is hoping that the increase in activity will reflect on the students' tests grades and show that there is a link between physical activity and brain function.
Advocates of getting Americans to move aren’t giving up easily. A new National Physical Activity Plan has been released with new priorities, a more intense focus on minorities through a diversity committee, with a shift towards communities and schools taking the lead in getting people to move daily.