Not only does an active child reduce the risk of developing heart disease, studies show children also do better academically if they get enough physical activity.
Experts recommend that schools provide 30 of the daily 60 minutes needed. Physical education plays an integral role in reaching this goal and teaching life-long healthy habits.
Despite this evidence, the majority of U.S. schools do not provide physical education.
Currently, only 3.8 percent of elementary, 7.9 percent of middle and 2.1 percent of high schools in the United States provide students with daily physical education. Nationally, 22 percent of schools do not require any physical education at all.
To help children get a head start on a healthy life, the American Heart Association strongly supports the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. This bipartisan legislation would help schools provide evidenced-based physical education programs and keep parents and decision-makers informed about how much physical education kids are receiving through the day.
American Heart Association volunteer Kirk Disrude, a stroke survivor who teaches physical education to high school students in Chicago-suburb Park Ridge, Ill., says the FIT Kids Act is “vital” for shaping a healthier future for America’s kids.
“Ensuring that quality physical education is implemented across our country is a lifesaving measure for the youth of our country. Now is the time to invest in physical education. We need to improve both health and [the] well-being of our youth and their overall cognitive functioning.”
Later this month, Disrude and other American Heart Association volunteers will come to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional members and staff about the FIT Kids Act. Disrude plans to stress that FIT Kids provides assistance while offering flexibility with physical education programs.
“If we want to decrease [the] deaths of our future leaders due to inactivity and poor health decisions there is no better place than having quality physical education and health departments,” Disrude said.
Join volunteers like Kirk and urge Washington to make physical education a priority in our schools. Email your members of Congress and ask them to support the FIT Kids Act.