HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - These days, kids are more challenged than ever to get enough physical activity at school. After hours, they plug into technology – burning data, not calories.
Dr. Katie Gunter with Huntsville Pediatric Associates says it’s a big problem and parents need to get on board with their kids’ health. “The obesity rates for children in Alabama is somewhere between the range of 15 to 20 percent,” said Gunter. “But the percentages of overweight and obesity – that category is greater than 34 percent.”
So how can we get kids up and moving? How about using the one thing that keeps them sitting: Technology!
Academy Sports and Outdoors in Madison provided WHNT News 19 three fitness trackers to give to three different students. The idea behind this Taking Action experiment was to see just how much exercise kids get at school and beyond.
The Fitbit default goal is 10,000 steps per day. Our kids did well, however getting their steps in at school was a challenge, especially since physical education in schools is limited. Here’s the PE time allotted for kids in Alabama:
- Elementary school: 30 minutes of PE
- Middle school: 50 minutes of PE
- High school: One credit of PE to gain a diploma
All three of our kids were able to meet their 10,000 steps before bedtime, thanks to after school activities and baseball practice. But it wasn’t an easy task.
“You’re fighting against a culture,” explained Whitesburg P-8 Athletic Director Lisa Norton. “Today’s culture is to be laid back and sedentary.”
Norton teaches girl's athletics and coaches track and field for Whitesburg P-8 in Huntsville. She has over 20 years of teaching and coaching experience and over that time, she’s experienced a growing trend of lack of motivation.
She says parents must get involved with their kids health and fitness. “If we don’t lead by example and put a little more effort in that sense, we are really going to have some health care issues down the road.”
Dr. Gunter recommends parents stick to a one hour per day rule of thumb. This way if kids don’t get their “steps” in at school, they still can succeed after-hours.
And if you’re looking for some motivating technology rather than sedentary technology, consider a wearable fitness tracker for your kids! After all, “If you give kids a goal, they love it,” said Gunter.