More PE in schools: A cost effective alternative
**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**
A guest post by Rick Osbourne
According to the experts childhood obesity has increased dramatically over the past three decades, while access to school based physical education has decreased over the same period. And although the jury is still out on the relationship between these two phenomena, some experts are calling for MORE PE as at least part of the solution to the obesity epidemic.
But in the midst of a globalized recession that’s benefitting only a small percentage of people at the top of the economic ladder, and with no legitimate end in sight, the odds of MORE PE actually happening are poor at best. In the real world, public school budgets are being slashed while class sizes are growing, and “luxuries” such as art, music, and physical education are being sacrificed to anything having to do with math or science.
While Resources are Being Reduced
In the real world, schools have less money, teachers have more kids in class, less time per student, and they’re being judged (by the U.S. Department of Education) on academic achievement not on their fitness levels. Under these circumstances, how and where do we fit in MORE PE into the budget and the curriculum?
Operation Pull Your Own Weight
One answer to that question can be found in a strategy known as Operation Pull Your Own Weight (OPYOW) which the American Society of Exercise Physiologists has described as “A simple, easily implemented, easily documented, and affordable solution to childhood obesity.”
The basic premise of OPYOW is that kids who can physically pull their own weight (do at least one conventional pull up) are ALMOST NEVER OBESE. Furthermore, by using a set of height adjustable pull up straps along with a technique called leg assisted pull ups (jumping and pulling at the same time), most kids (90%) can learn to do pull ups in a predictable amount of time (6 weeks to 6 months). And those who maintain the ability (which requires decent eating and exercise habits) will avoid obesity and the myriad of related problems for life.
Very Little Time, Space, and Money
But here’s the main point for schools to consider. OPYOW requires LESS THAN TWO MINUTES PER WEEK PER STUDENT*, A MINUTE BUDGET, and ALMOST NO SPACE. So even if your school system is short on funds, short on time, and short on space, there are ZERO schools in the USA who are unable to implement OPYOW – IF THEY WANT TO DO IT. That is to say, the only real requirement is that a school’s administrators and staff want to implement this utterly simple strategy.
Four for the Price of One
And those who implement OPYOW will be able to document real progress towards childhood obesity PREVENTION every step of the way. Prevention in turn systematically reduces the need for rehabilitation. As childhood obesity is systematically beaten back, self-esteem is systematically improved, along with related factors including academic performance (upon which schools are judged), school attendance (upon which schools are funded), and social behaviors among students (60% of bulling is obesity related).
If they recognize the possibilities, OPYOW represents one simple solution for creative educational administrators. There’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.
*On average kids are in school 360 minutes (60 minutes times 6 hours equals 360 minutes) per day, and 1800 minutes (360 minutes times 5 days equals 1800 minutes) per week. That is to say, any creative administrator who actually wants to defeat childhood obesity, improve self-esteem along with academic performance, school attendance, and social behaviors can find the time and money to implement OPYOW.
**The one downside to OPYOW is that it has no aerobic component. By the same token, helping kids avoid obesity (functionally debilitating excess body weight) helps kids, most of whom naturally love to run and play normally whenever they’re out of school.
Rick Osbourne is a former physical educator and a pioneer in the field of functional childhood obesity prevention. He currently serves as President of the Pull Your Own Weight Foundation which is an Illinois based, 501c3, not for profit organization whose focus is functional childhood obesity prevention. He’s written and published three books in this field, the latest of which is entitled