I had the opportunity to speak to an 8th grade class on Friday about the importance of fitness and nutrition. I must stay first off that I commend the teacher for having the desire to education her students not only about the importance of fitness as well as nutrition but her desire to educate them on the balance of these two important topics.
The class that I spoke to comprised of about 40 students. I was amazed how all of them were interested in what was being said as well as being participatory. The topics that I spoke about were on strength, flexibility, stability and endurance and the importance of cross training and proper supplementation. I spoke heavily about nutrition and what balanced nutrition looks like. We discussed specifically what makes up proteins, fats and carbohydrates and what each of these items do for the body. The kids were great, they were answering questions and asking questions and the questions were amazing!
However, one thing that I noticed was how influenced these 8th graders were already by the marketing of our media and views of society. Some of the questions that came up were questions about 6 packs (in regards to the abdominals) and splenda & diet sodas (regarding staying thin). The question that blew me out of the water though was the question of what is the difference between lipo-suction and gastric by-pass. Now, the question in and of itself is a great one. However, the student goes on to ask which of the two are better and what goes through my head is “why is an 8th grader asking such a question”? Unfortunately, I did not have time to ask her why she was asking such a question at such a young age.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile diabetes, obesity and an array of other health problems are affecting our young today. I am writing this blog entry to remind everyone who is reading this that the health of our youth is vital. Families need to be educated as well as have discussions about healthy food options and fitness and families as a whole need to get healthy together. Fun ways that a family can get healthy together are by cooking meals together, going to the park and playing, going on bike rides or taking hikes. If you do not have proper education on nutrition or fitness find lectures and workshop in your area on such topics. In addition, discussions about what being healthy is really about also need to take place. What I mean by this is that our young need to understand that just because someone has 6 pack abs does not make them healthy. This subject becomes a difficult task because of how the media portrays “healthy” bodies.
I want to thank the 8th grade class and their teacher for inviting me into their classroom. I would love to see more schools and teachers doing this for their students. The benefits that come from healthy nutrition and proper exercise are endless: Improved cognition and concentration, decreased anxiety and restless and improved performance both in and out and out of the classroom.