How do we, as a society, go from failing our children (as it relates to physical fitness) to helping them become stronger, faster, more athletic, more confident and more comfortable in expressing themselves physically?
The easy answer is for us to move more. Remember, our children mimic what we do more than follow what we say. We talk about exercise all the time and don't do it. They see that. They copy it. When children see us move and, more importantly, when they see us enjoying movement, they want to move, too.
Children are no different from us in the sense they want to do things that make them feel good. The big difference lies in the biology. As adults, we are mature enough to understand the ramifications of present actions. If we eat a few Twinkies or snack cakes, we have good understanding of what those junk foods will do to our bodies in the long run. Sure, they're great now, but we'll pay for them later.
Our youngsters don't have that luxury. Their brains aren't fully developed. Younger children barely understand concepts of what's happening later today. A teen's future plans go as far as the weekend.
They don't eat good foods or exercise because eating healthy and moving are good for them. They eat what they like because it makes them feel good. They are healthy because we make them live that way!
That's why an overwhelming majority of our "healthy food choice" programs ultimately fail with children. Healthy does not equal good.
But what makes the human body thrive?
Many of us think better after movement. Pick up the books "Smart Moves" by Carla Hannaford and "Brain Gym" by Paul E. Dennison. They are great resources that adults and teachers can use to get our children moving more and thinking better.
There is an enormous amount of scientific research that supports more movement for better learning. But I don't need the science. All I need are the emails and calls from teachers talking about how attentive, manageable and studious their students are after physical activity.
Bryant holds several national training certifications, is an author, lectures internationally and is the founder of C.L.A.Y. - the Coalition for Launching Active Youth. His fitness tips appear biweekly in Health and Wellness.