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“There is nothing, I think, more unfortunate than to have soft, chubby, fat-looking children who go to watch their school play basketball every Saturday and regard that as their weeks exercise.” —John F. Kennedy

According to some studies, youth participation in organized sports has declined. This by itself is not alarming. What is alarming is that the decline is directly correlated with an increase in screen time. Kids are stimulating their brains but not their bodies.

The problem is compounded by the fact that our schools have reduced PE requirements. I have a friend who is PE teacher. He has been teaching gym for just over 25 years. When he first started teaching in elementary school, students were required to complete 90 hours of PE per year. That number has been reduced to 43 hours per year.

This is a tragedy that will have health repercussions for years to come.

Fitness, physical activity and health are inextricably linked, and PE teachers and Certified Athletic Trainers are in a position to make a real difference in preventative health. Rather than limiting the scope, practice, and importance of these roles, the government and healthcare providers should be mobilizing ATCs and PE teachers to address this crisis.

If I were the CEO of a health insurance company, this is where I would focus my resources. True disease prevention rather than disease mitigation!

With the reduction of PE class, it’s no wonder that 71% of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 would not qualify for military service.

The county has a problem and the military has a problem. The military should allocate some of its more than $700 billion budget to addressing this issue. Without able-bodied members, our military will not be fit enough to effectively carry out its mission. The same could be said about members of your local police, fire and EMS services.

“Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.” —John F. Kennedy

Make PE and prevention of disease and injury a wholesale priority. Let them run!

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