In 2011 a statewide study done by the Birmingham News showed that 33% of the people in Alabama are obese. Seventy percent are labeled as overweight. The easiest way to solve this overwhelming problem is by exercise: any physical activity that develops fitness or is done to maintain or increase a skill. It may seem obvious that exercise is a prime solution for ridding Alabama of obesity, but clearly the people of Alabama are doing nothing to solve the issue for themselves. However, one of the best ways to increase exercise and decrease the obesity rates in Alabama is for all schools in the state, public and private, to mandate regular exercise of some form for at least thirty minutes every day. This way all children attending a school outside the house would be able to receive all the proper tools to increase their level of fitness and lower the obesity rates in Alabama. Obviously, most students do not have an athletic activity outside of school, and mild forms of exercise like walking up and down stairs are simply not enough to enable these students to have a healthy level of fitness. By schools mandating exercise, the students’ health would benefit as well as the physical and academic aspects of the students. In some cases not only would the students benefit, but also the schools themselves would benefit by including mandatory exercise in their curriculum.
Initially, schools should make exercise mandatory because of the health-related benefits it would give students. Exercise is a great way to combat diseases and other kinds of health conditions. According to a Mayo Clinic fitness study, exercise helps prevent diabetes, arthritis, and depression by releasing chemicals that ease depression and reduce other harmful immune system chemicals. Thousands of kids in Alabama suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, and depression; and if schools enforced exercise as a part of a student’s daily schedule, then the number of kids suffering from one of these diseases would dramatically drop. By exercising every day, students would lose tons of unwanted calories which are stored in the body as fat and can lead to diseases. Once the students lost these unwanted calories, they would be left with a healthier and fitter body. Also, exercise enables people to live longer. By the higher heart rate exercise causes, the students would be left with a stronger heart which would enable them to live a longer, healthier life. In fact, according to “To Live to a Biblically Old Age,” those who exercise consistently are far more likely to live a longer life than those who never exercise at all. This shows the importance of regular exercise as it pertains to health. The positive affects of exercise are shown over time to benefit the exerciser in the form of a longer life. This points out the need for consistency; exercising off and on will have little affects in the long run (To Live to a Biblically Old Age). Schools have the best opportunity to ensure that the students are exercising every day and not just once a week. Millions of people have lost their lives prematurely due to diseases, and many of those have been children. However, if schools invested in their respective students by mandating exercise, they would help the students tremendously in the long run and enable them to live longer, healthier lives.
Additionally, exercise should be mandatory in Alabama schools because it would give physical and athletic benefits to the students. With 70% of Alabama’s total population labeled overweight, it stands to follow that many students in Alabama are not in a safe condition physically. Exercise in schools is the easiest way to guarantee that all students in Alabama would receive the tools they need to reach a healthy physical condition. According to the study done by The Mayo Clinic, thirty minutes of exercise per day can significantly control one’s weight; and schools could easily find the needed time in their regular hours. Exercise is the best way to control one’s weight because it helps to eliminate unwanted fat and build muscle at the same time. By exercising at school, the student would be able to save a large amount of money that could be spent trying to lose weight somewhere else. With students in better shape, the athletic programs of the schools would improve greatly. This would bring greater attention to the schools both at a state level and even on a regional or national level. By schools mandating exercise and helping students lose weight and obtain a healthy level of fitness, they themselves will receive great reward at an athletic level as well. The opportunity they give the students to have that level of fitness gives the students the opportunity to give the schools athletic success.
Finally, students would benefit academically if schools made exercise mandatory. A recent study by NPR showed that exercising every day greatly improves brain activity and development. This way, not only would the students’ brains be able to function for longer periods of time, but they would also be able to function at deeper levels. The level of focus in students would tremendously increase and they would be able to pay attention for longer periods of time. Consequently, it follows that the students would become smarter and more capable in the classroom. In fact, the New York Timesshowed that students who exercised every day had on average a .4 advantage in their GPA over those who failed to exercise daily. By helping the students improve academically, schools in Alabama would in turn help themselves. Because the students would be so well equipped academically, they would be able to perform better on standardized tests, which solely reflect the school and how it teaches the students. Involuntarily, the more the schools help the students, the more the students help the schools. Many people would point out that mandating exercise would take time out of the school day for actual learning. While this is true, the increase in brain power and efficiency that regular exercise provides would make up for the lack of time in the classroom. In the long run, it is more important to have regular exercise than the equivalent time of learning because the student would make much better use of his time that he would have in the classroom due to the increase of focus he would have.
While almost everybody would agree that exercise is beneficial, many people have serious concerns about the financial effects it might have on both the students’ families and the school itself. Losing weight through exercise means losing money spent on new clothes for that student. It would cost a great sum of money for this to take place. There is no doubt that effective exercise would indeed require spending money on new clothes due to the effects it would have on each student; however, in the long run, a change in lifestyle is more important than spending money short term. Losing money on new clothes is required throughout time with or without exercise, and the money would still have to be spent one way or another. For the schools themselves, most public schools already have the facilities that it would take to enforce regular exercise. For those that do not, fundraisers and other ways of making money would not be hard to come up with to receive the money that would be necessary to build facilities for the exercise to take place in. Additionally, the exercise programs that each school would need to sustain would not have to be unusually nice or fancy. Effective exercise can easily take place without high-end equipment.
It would not be difficult for schools to mandate daily exercise. Exercise can take a number of different forms, all greatly beneficial to students in different ways. Most school have a track or a path that students could run around, and many schools also have a weight room. For schools like Westminster without a track of weight room, the students could easily go to the gym and play basketball and other sports to increase the students’ blood flow and lead them on a road to a high level of fitness. In more ways than one, daily exercise would leave students healthier and in better shape physically. In Alabama, obesity leads to an unbelievable amount of conditions like diabetes or heart attacks. If schools mandated exercise, then the benefits to the student’s health and physical condition would greatly reduce obesity and thus lessen the chance of life-threatening conditions. That 33% obesity rate could easily drop down ten percent into the range of many northern states just by the number of students who would have been transformed by schools mandating exercise. For the safety and health of the students in Alabama, schools should make daily exercise a part of their curriculum.