To which I answer, I'm 51 years old. I don't have to do push-ups any more and you can't make me.
And that brings me to my topic for today--physical education in the public schools. With the emphasis on meeting the "No Child Left Behind" standards, many schools have eliminated gym class and recess and have only recently noticed that the kids really did need that time to exercise. There's an epidemic of obesity in children, brought on by oversized portions, a steady diet of junk food and a couch potato lifestyle.
Why move when it's so much fun to sit eating chips and Mountain Dew while you play Halo 3?
I am not an advocate of making everything fun and entertaining. However, in order for exercise to become a lifelong habit, kids have to want to do it, so you have to make it fun. Or at least tolerable.
And yet, there are still gym teachers out there who load up on the calisthenics which even the most athletically inclined find tedious. My daughter comes home from school saying that in gym they start off doing a round of sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks, then they play soccer for a while, then they ran laps. She hates it.
If the goal of physical education is to instill a healthy attitude toward exercise and making it a lifelong habit, what's the point of making exercise feel like torture?
Here's my idea. Instead of gym class, we have the kids get out and walk for the 40 minutes alloted for gym class. They can listen to their MP3 players or talk with friends. There would be no set speed and no competition. Okay, maybe they won't break a sweat, but they will be moving. It's easy and it's enjoyable and I'm sure after a week or two, everyone in school will look forward to Walk Time.
My other idea for physical education is to teach folk dancing, although I suppose to get kids to try it you'd have to come up with another name. (Something like Ethnic Movement, maybe?) I took a folk dancing class my senior year in college and it was by far my favorite course ever. I had a blast. Like everyone else in the class, I was always hot and sweaty by the end, getting a good workout and not even noticing it.
Here's the best exercise: the one you're willing to do every day. Let's make Physical Education a real education, where kids can find out that exercise really can be fun and they can discover the activity they're willing to do every day.
And you can bet it's not going to be push-ups.