Monday, January 23, 2006

Too Little Exercise?

Saturday, Alexander Russo at This Week in Education posted a comment on a story about kids hitting the gym after school that he had seen in the NY Times. It piqued my curiousity, so I read it, too.

The first couple paragraphs surprised me:

AT 13, Jena Jerve has managed to stretch her days to do it all: keep a 4.0 grade-point average, play center on her school's basketball team and nourish her love for dancing with six hours a week of tap, ballet and jazz.

But over the last year and a half Jena has also been cramming a less typical extra-curricular activity into her busy schedule, the health club. There, for about an hour twice a week, she has discovered the rigors of weight training and the joy of building stamina on a stationary bike and fitting into jeans. "I've lost inches around my stomach and waist and legs," said Jenna, who is 5-foot-9 and weighs about 175 pounds. "I have a lot of energy now."

She's dancing six hours a week, practicing hoops AT LEAST another hour a day (and most days probably well over that), and still feels uncomfortable in her body. So she adds a couple hours at the gym (err, "health club").

And it brought to mind last Monday's post by Donna in which her uncle reminds her of all the "unhealthy" practices that kids used to survive. He closes by wondering how we all managed to still be here. It's almost the stereotypical "in-my-day" piece, but he doesn't add the lines about drinking out of the garden hose and walking to school in the snow.

The NY Times article does a good job of balancing nostalgia with reality: how "we" grew up as opposed to how "kids" grow up today. The comments the author received from parents reflect a a past that feels very much like mine.

The simple fact is that we can no longer rely on daily life to provide our children with the exercise that we got chasing through unfenced neighborhood backyards after basketball practice. Conscientious parents carefully wash cutting boards so kids won't get chicken juice on their vetgetables; good for them - they know more than our parents did. Dishwashers boil the living bejesus out of everything a human hand has touched. We live in single-story cookie-cutter houses in gated communities instead of five-story walk-ups down the block from the deli. Those are facts, and we ought not let misty memories distort them. Even if we do wish that thirteen-year-olds didn't have to rely on the gym.

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Blogger Alexander Russo said...

al --

thanks for mentioning my blog. i'm glad you liked the post.

i also like your thre-beer limit on posts. i should do that, too -- for everybody's safety.

8:22 PM  
Blogger anybody said...

al -- Uncle Tom would probably say that they couldn't afford a garden hose and the snow was six feet deep, even in July.

The way things change from what we once knew does feel odd. It makes me wonder what my great grandparents had to say about the way life changed for them. It makes me wonder what my kids will lament when they are old and gray.

9:59 PM  

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