Fitness in America: Reversing the Unfit Trend
With all the fitness crazes, national fitness centers, fitness books, and even fitness shows one might wonder why obesity is about to pass smoking as the number one American health risk. A review of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports webpage offers a clue.
The webpage is full of proclamations and lifetime achievement awards, and that is about it. Thirty years ago all public schools required students to regularly test their strength and endurance in the President’s Council program. Now, many schools do not even offer daily physical fitness for students, citing lack of funding for such programs.
There is no suggestion here the president is responsible for the deplorable state of fitness. But, why all the public relations? The federal government apparently is doing nothing about promoting physical fitness, so why does it say that it does?
Perhaps the same reason the average Joe can slap on an authentic New York Yankees cap, to sit down himself in front of the TV to watch sports, steadily drink himself into oblivion and say that he is a sports enthusiast.
After decades of being plied by billions of dollars of ads positioning sports heroes with beer, sugar-laced sodas, candy bars, and cereals may be the consumerist society is heading toward its natural conclusion, inactivity in the name of the superactivity.
Wouldn’t large corporations that continually complain of untenably high employee health benefit costs be wise to buy their worker’s fitness club memberships? Their accident rates, sickness rates, and severe illness rates would decline dramatically. With a factory or office full of employees with a bounce in their steps, and the emotional lift regular exercise gives, productivity would rocket to all-time highs.
But alas, we live in a democratic republic, and one cannot expect his employer or government to promote his/her health. Nonetheless, if any institution in a democracy should be expected to teach people how to live long, productive and enjoyable lives one would think of the public school.
Increasingly we hear of school funding being cut back, while national junk food brands are moved onto campus, in many cases even invading the school cafeteria.
While in many respects this country was built on free enterprise, shouldn’t the line be drawn at the schoolyard fence? Does free company have the right to seduce our children to become couch potatoes?