Encourage keiki to eat right and get physical
Physical education was quite possibly one of the hardest earned A's in my high school career. I remember doing all those last-minute crunches the night before as if they would even make a difference on the skin-fold test the following morning. I remember dreading the freshman 10K run and sophomore biathlon around Ala Moana Beach Park. I went to Kamehameha School, where P.E. isn't just a graduation credit; in fact it is a four-year program where students learn exercise physiology and ways to maintain their overall health through healthy dieting and exercise. I have been away at college for two years now, and I feel that I have done a pretty decent job at fulfilling the mission of the program - at least I haven't yet succumbed to the "freshman fifteen."
Kamehameha Schools' headmaster Michael Chun boasts its status as one of the most progressive physical education programs in the country, and from discussions with my peers here at Stanford University, I wouldn't begin to doubt him. The latest Hawaii health trend reflects increased rates of obesity, which leads to cascading effects of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Such a trend has led to the development of the state-sponsored Healthy Hawaii Initiative and restrictions in school lunches and fundraising items in Hawaii's public schools.
Hawaii should not have to face such a preventable condition as obesity. More needs to be done to improve the physical activity of our keiki.
In 2005 alone, the state spent $140 million on inpatient hospital bills for the treatment of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Obesity significantly increases the risk of all three of these conditions and is easily preventable through simple changes in lifestyle. One of the easiest solutions is to increase your daily physical activity with a level of intensity that is unique to your lifestyle. For example, studies have shown that trading an hour of television with an hour of low-intensity exercise decreases health risks.
Furthermore, from 1990 to 2006, the obesity rate for Hawaii adults has more than doubled from just over 9 percent to more than 20 percent, according to the state Department of Health. For middle school and high school students in 2005, about 30 percent did not meet the daily recommendations for physical activity. This growing rate for adults is an important aspect of understanding the importance of encouraging healthy living for our children. Everyone hears the cliche "children are our future." Let us strive to make that future a healthier one.
By educating our youth on the health benefits of physical fitness and a balanced diet, we can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like obesity. Physical education programs like that of Kamehameha Schools strive to promote healthy lifestyles for their graduates. The emphasis is not so much on the intensity of the workout, but the overall improvement of health and the understanding of a healthy lifestyle. I propose that similar programs should be instated in Hawaii's public schools to encourage more students to be aware of the health problems that plague our state. Too many people put off healthy living, citing time as a primary issue, but ironically, exercising adds years to our lives as well as improving the quality of those years.
Why haven't we begun setting a healthy example for our children? We should be educating them on their physical health in addition to English, math and chemistry. After all, what benefit would education be if we didn't live long enough to make a difference?
Sasha "Kanani" Honeychurch, of Kahaluu, is a sophomore majoring in human biology at Stanford University.
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