Monday, May 5, 2008

fat kids

an epiphany today. first, some context.

got it? on a borrowed peugeot road bike today, i soaked up the sunshine and something occurred to me. our green spaces are going to waste. the reason it's so hard for people to exercise and stay in shape when they're adults is because they're not doing it when they're kids.

how did i come up with this theory? first, i suck at bike riding. the best i ever did was the 3 miles or so to forest glen middle school way back in the day, and that took us 45 minutes there. home, much longer because of detours to the five and dime and the baseball card shop and fights in the park across wiles road. (no, not me fighting, watching others fight since that was the cool thing to do in middle school. back before weapons were part of the equation.) landed on my face once on my way to high school before i discovered that riding your bike to high school was decidedly loserish. so, long story short, my bicycling skills aren't so great. going on bike rides with her is generally an exercise in pain because she's better than me at it.

second, there were no kids having fun being outdoors on the trail today. ok, so there were a few tottering along or riding in trailers behind dad's bike. no kids playing in backyards. no kids enjoying a glorious spring day. it goes in cycles, but the most common answer i get when i ask my classes about hobbies is a list of gaming systems not sports. when we were kids, the world was perceived to be safer. we were allowed to go places and do things without the aid of minivans and mommies. we learned how to be responsible for ourselves and make good decisions on our own. neurotic parents these days (rightly or wrongly) don't trust anyone to do the right thing when it comes to their kids. they don't let kids have fun independent of them, let alone play neighborhood pick-up games of football (tackle in the grass, two hand touch in the street).

parents need to make a concerted effort to get their kids in the habit of being active. the kids emulate what they see. they don't see mom and dad doing it, they figure it's not important. worse yet, mom and dad do it, but complain about it, so the kids immediately assume the worst and resist it even more. i try to set a good example for my students, but it's harder and harder to make that connection with classes these days because of the climate and culture of schools. but this isn't a school rant. this is an exercise rant. get out. be active. parent or not, we all need to do so. don't wait until you have kids. you'll be old and tired by then. get in that habit now while you're just tired. don't treat it as a chore. do what you enjoy.

viva fun!

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