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Spring into action

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MARCH 24, 2009 7:30 AM

All across Iowa City, spring is here. Temperatures are rising, the days are getting longer, and the flowers are blooming. Now is the perfect time for the community to get out and enjoy the sunny skies and warmer weather. Even the couch potato and habitual exercise procrastinator have run out of reasons to stay indoors.

Let’s face it: Most of us are unhealthy. After a winter of frequenting the McDonald’s dollar menu and consuming other fast-food undesirables, quite a few of us could benefit from dropping those few extra pounds and shedding our coats of winter blubber. And this stride to healthfulness starts with simple things, such as taking a walk, going for a jog, or even bicycling to class instead of driving. What better way to enjoy the nice weather than to enjoy it on foot instead of in the confines of a car? Why not save a few dollars in parking and avoid those dreaded Iowa City parking tickets by walking or biking to class?

We can learn a variety of lessons from those die-hard bikers and runners who can be found out on the street in even the most inclement weather. However, one group of people is missing from the streets during these bouts of warmer weather: children. In the years before video games and satellite TV, children would have been found outdoors playing from dawn to dusk. But now that video games can simulate practically any environment, children have a much lower desire to leave the house. Seven NFL players hope to curb childhood obesity by getting sedentary children up and moving. They are voicing their support for the FIT Kids Act. According to an article in USA Today, the proposed bill would require schools, districts, and states to report on the physical activity of their students and to offer students health and nutritional information.

The need for a bill of this kind is reflected in any set of childhood obesity statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obese children and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes, than other children and adolescents. They also found that obese children and adolescents are more likely to be obese adults — around 80 percent of overweight children aged 10-15 years were overweight as adults at the age of 25.

This is preventable. We should encourage children to get outside and exercise whenever possible, instead of permitting them to lounge around indoors slurping soda and playing Xbox. The future health of our nation depends on it.

We can serve as role models for these children. As a country, we have become dependent on health care to cure the problems brought on by our own unhealthy recklessness. We continually complain about the rising costs of health care, yet we do nothing to facilitate a solution. Go to the park. Take a ride down the bike trail. Spring is here, and now is the perfect opportunity to get healthy.


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