Dr. Gina Stuart
Morgan Middle School
Now more than ever before it is important for each of us to make our own personal fitness a priority. Being physically fit and participating in an active lifestyle can help reduce the prevalence of many of the health problems we face today such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Beyond the physical benefits of fitness, there are many mental and social benefits as well; feeling good, increasing energy levels, reducing stress, and spending time with family and friends, are but just a few.
As physical education teachers at Morgan Middle School we are committed to helping our students be healthy and physically fit. We understand the need for our young people to lead active and healthy lives. All of our students in grades sixth through eighth participate in regular physical education classes throughout the year that are designed to provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to improve their personal fitness. We have been utilizing “The President’s Challenge: Physical Activity & Fitness Awards Program” for the past several years to help teach middle school students about their current fitness levels and encourage them to improve. The “President’s Challenge” has been used in schools across the nation to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage physical activity for more than fifty years.
The program assesses the current fitness level of youth ages 6-17 and offers awards to encourage them to stay active. The Physical Fitness Program includes five events that measure muscular strength/endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, speed, agility and flexibility. Awards are given in three areas: Participant, National, and Presidential. Those students whose scores fall below the 50th percentile on one or more of the five events qualify for the Participant Physical Fitness Award for taking part in the Physical Fitness Test. Students who score at or above the 50th percentile on all five events, but fall below the 85th percentile in one or more of the events qualify for the National Physical Fitness Award. This award indicates that the student has demonstrated a basic, yet challenging, level of physical fitness. The students who score at or above the 85th percentile of qualifying standards on all five events qualify for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. This award recognizes youth who achieve an outstanding level of physical fitness.
Children and adolescents need time for structured and unstructured physical activity during and outside of the school day and parents play a vital role in making that happen. With spring finally arriving, make physical fitness a priority for you and your family and start being active your way today. Much of the information for this article was obtained from publications put out by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can obtain more information about fitness for both teens and adults by visiting these sites: www.presidentschallenge.org and www.fitness.gov . For those of you who are already physically fit, keep up the good work and make it a life-long habit. For those of you who need to get started it just requires making a plan and sticking to it…