A for Effort

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There is an article in the June 18, 2017 edition of the New York Times Magazine which reports research that children who were in an exercise program for one hour a day after school improved on academic testing and had less visceral fat*. In the second phase of the study, the control group will have the same program as the research group.

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While I laud the research and the results, the whole situation causes me to sit back and shake my head. In the whole history of the United States, would anyone have even thought of this study until the last 25 years? The study also states that most children in our country do not have an hour of activity a day. This is a huge change compared to the childhoods of most of their parents and grandparents.

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The exercise in this program was active play such as playing tag. While the article focused on the change in visceral fat, it also stated that the exercise group performed better on tests of attention, processing information, and controlling their impulsivity. What else is involved with playing a game like tag other than running? Attention? Planning? Cooperation to distract the person who is it? Not being impulsive? Having fun as a group?

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Are children’s choice of out of school activities significantly influencing their current lives and their futures? Are the changes in recreational activities and the accelerated curriculum contributing to some of the problems that children are having such as attention disorders, hyperactivity, undeveloped sensory integration, immature visual motor skills, and visual problems?                                                           I strongly believe that they are.

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*Visceral fat is body fat that is stored within the abdominal cavity and is therefore stored around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. … Storing higher amounts of visceral fat is associated with increased risks of a number of health problems including type 2 diabetes.

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