Opinions/Editorials 1/15/10

Fitness results spark questions for LHS students

By Ashley Cabrera  
Editor-in-Chief

Last year 15 percent of LHS ninth graders were found to be totally fit and 39 percent to have an unhealthy weight after enduring a series of tests in accordance with the FITNESSGRAM program required in all California public schools.
According to the California’s state’s required Physical Fitness Test (PFT) having an unhealthy weight means body fat percentages exceed 25 percent in makes and 32 percent in females. Being declared as totally fit signifies that all six state fitness measures have been met.
The Cooper Institute founded the FITNESSGRAM in 1982 as a method for physical education teachers to give out detailed information on children’s fitness levels.
This program consists of six fitness areas: aerobic capacity, abdominal strength and endurance, upper body strength and endurance, body composition, trunk extensor strength and flexibility.
The mission of this program is to encourage students to establish lifetime habits of regular physical activity.
This physical exam is required to be given to all fifth, seventh and ninth graders, whether or not they are enrolled in a physical education class. If a student is physically unable to complete the full exam, he or she must be tested in as many areas as he or she is capable of.
The California Physical Test supplies data on how students can plan personal fitness programs and go on to understand appropriate fitness levels. Teachers are also able to show physical education teachers how to best design an accurate physical education program.
New Year’s resolutions have become commonplace, Americans vowing to start a healthy lifestyle and get a physically fit body. High school students are not always consciously aware of the options available in order to achieve healthy life habits. With physical activities limited to sports and physical education classes, what else is out there to do?
The fact is it isn’t as simple as changing what we eat, but rather changing our lifestyles. It may be a matter of deciding to shoot a couple hoops rather than sitting around in the gym, but this can’t work for us all. Physical education is a key role in separating the physically fit students from the ones with unhealthy body weights.
Physical education teacher Amber Donnelly was “surprised by the results.”
Donnelly explained that students enrolled in physical education classes are given a curriculum based on a Presidential Fitness Standard, which is much higher in intensity than the required California Physical Test.
“[The results] show the need for students to take their health and diet seriously even though they are young. It is often after high school when students start to realize how important physical activity is,” she said.
Donnelly hopes her students will be more attentive on how their lifestyle and diet have a direct connection to their physical fitness. “I can’t force my students to be healthy, but I can show them how to be healthy,” Donnelly said.

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