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Kids Don’t Get Enough Exercise

A winning essay in the Rotary Club of Farmington Essay Contest.

By Rachel Powell

Grade 6

Teacher: Mr. Bean

I’m running down the field, fake a defender, swing my leg back and let my foot crash through the center of the ball. I watch the ball soar into the upper right hand corner of the net. I start jumping with joy around my basement… Wait, did I say my basement? Too many kids are “playing” sports on their Wii’s and Xbox’s, where the only exercise they’re getting is in their thumbs and hands. Why aren’t more kids enjoying this same game of soccer outside?

For example, let’s say you went up to any random kid and asked, “What do you prefer, playing video games or playing outside?”

Chances are they’d respond, “Playing video games.”

 Well, that’s not a surprise. High tec gadgets like the Wii or the Xbox have taken over the simple joy of playing a game of tag in the backyard. This new way of living has caused American kids to have an obesity outbreak - one out of every three kids are either obese in childhood or will be in older years. That statistic shows that American kids in this day and age aren’t getting enough exercise.

 Part of the problem is nowadays you can’t just walk down to someone’s house to have a game of kickball in the middle of the road. Whenever I’m going over to a friend’s house, my mom always throws me the same questions:

“Who’s watching you?”

“What time are you coming home?”

Since my mom worries about my safety when there is parent supervision, she’d be far too nervous to let me play in the streets alone.  Many other kids face the same situation.  This seems to have had an effect on kids since it takes away a spontaneous playtime.

Only 42 percent of boys ages 5-8 receive the recommended amount of exercise (www.parenting.com). The other 58 percent of kids might not have a big enough backyard for play, or they don’t have any siblings to play with.  For them it’s just easier to sit on the couch with a bag of chips instead of taking the drive to the park. Even a walk down the street with your dog is better than having the TV on all weekend.

But the real issue isn’t the fact that kids aren’t enjoying the simple joy of a game of tag; it’s the fact that it is really unhealthy to sit on the couch in all your free time. Every hour that you sit slumped on fluffy pillows you’re actually feeding your body calories that you could be burning outside. Me? Well, whenever I get the chance, I kick the soccer ball around or play fetch with my dog because it’s what my body needs.  Your body needs that, too.  

People are missing the point. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Just run around with your dog, play a game of soccer or basketball, or make up a game of your choice. Anything that keeps your body moving is a great calorie burner. If you keep your body moving, and you do things to make exercise more enjoyable, you’ll maintain a healthy weight and you’ll feel great about yourself as well!

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