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P.E.: As American as Apple Pie

From the Morning Consult, August 13, 2015By Joe MooreSupporting P.E. in grades K through 12 is one of the most patriotic things you can do.That’s right. Because supporting physical education in America’s schools is among the most effective steps we can take to ensure that in the coming decades our military will have enough physically fit recruits in times of national crisis. It’s also an essential way to secure the future health of our nation.Yes. Your kids’ P.E. teachers are national leaders. And you need to support their efforts.Since the years of World War II, the percentage of overweight and obese youth has increased significantly. Today, nearly one in four young adults are carrying too much weight to enlist. And obesity is among the leading reasons why most 17-to-24-year-olds (70%) cannot serve, according to a Mission: Readiness report. As distressing, 12 percent of active duty service members are obese, up 61 percent since 2002.When thousands of volunteer recruits need to lose at least 20 pounds to enlist, it means that that same number of active military are at a greater risk of re-gaining the weight after basic training. This means more injuries and even dismissals due to excess weight and lack of fitness. In fact, stress fractures and serious sprains within the military are on the rise—stemming, at least in part, from inadequate physical activity in adolescence. The problem is so significant, indeed, that Mission: Readiness cites that there were 72 percent more medical evacuations to Germany from Afghanistan and Iraq due to these types of injuries than due to combat wounds.The culture and physical environment in which American children and adolescents are growing up have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. In decades past, kids would be outside running around, playing games, and riding their bikes for hours on end. The “draw” of modern technology and screen time was never so strong. What’s more, everyday life simply required more movement.When kids and adolescents exercise regularly, it helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, improves strength and endurance, increases self-esteem, and reduces anxiety and stress. Research even shows that regular exercise gives kids an academic boost. There’s evidence, too, that regular exercise may help behavior.Read the full article