Inactivity Epidemic Can Be Overcome!
By Jim Baugh
America is facing an inactivity and obesity crisis. Twenty-eight-percent of all Americans are sedentary, meaning they do not participate in any physical activity throughout the year. This number is leveling in most age groups yet continues to climb in young people. If we allow this trend to continue, obesity related healthcare costs will soar in the near future.
But all is not lost. The solution to reversing this dangerous drift lies in sports. By encouraging young people to get active through organized leagues or Physical Education classes in school, health benefits are seen almost immediately. Children also learn skills that can be applied into adulthood including self-discipline, teamwork, leadership and goal setting. Studies have shown that children who are more active perform better than their inactive peers in the classroom.
In 2013, I founded PHIT America to help with the fight against the inactivity epidemic. We are a grassroots education and advocacy non-profit dedicated to getting the word out about the benefits of an active lifestyle. Together with more than 150 sponsors, we are working to create a “Movement for a Fit and Healthy America” by encouraging people to get off the couch and get moving!
One of the major factors leading to this inactivity crisis has been the drastic and widespread cuts seen in physical education budgets across the past decade. Did you know that the average school budget for PE is only $764 per year? Worse still, 48 percent of high schools have no PE programs.
One fantastic initiative that PHIT America believes can change this is the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grants. For the last 13 years, PEP has been awarding millions of dollars in grants from the U.S Department of Education to schools and community organizations working to rebuild our physical education curriculum. Grants are utilized for equipment, support and training teachers and staff. PEP has spawned a “new PE” in which new technologies – such as heart rate monitors and activity trackers – are being used to encourage healthy habits and spark a lifelong commitment to fitness.
Another political initiative that could go a long way towards ending inactivity is the proposed PHIT Act. When passed, the PHIT Act would allow Americans to use pre-tax medical accounts for physical activity expenses, such as health club memberships and dues for youth and adult sports leagues. This would give Americans a direct financial incentive to get off the couch and be active.
This bill, which is currently before congress, receives broad bipartisan support. Of the 45 co-sponsors, 22 are Democrats and 23 are Republicans. The plan makes financial sense too, as the World Health Organization estimates that every $1 spent on physical activity will lead to a $3.20 reduction in medical expenses.
If you are looking for a way to inspire your children to get moving – or maybe even some motivation to be more active yourself – visit www.GetFitHere.org. This online directory features more than fifty different sports and activities as well as links to helpful websites, coaches, leagues and facilities in your area.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, the time is now to get out there and be active!
About Jim Baugh
Jim Baugh is a Sporting Goods Hall of Fame inductee and a 40 year industry veteran. In 2013 he founded PHIT America, a non-profit advocacy organization focused on overcoming the inactivity pandemic and creating a “Movement for a Fit & Healthy America.”
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