• Sumo

By Ken Reed

Sports participation for all is a big issue for the gang at League of Fans. We write about the need for sports participation, physical activity, exercise and physical education in schools on a regular basis.

While the United States is a sports mad country when it comes to spectator sports, we’re couch potatoes when it comes to actual sports participation. Relative to other countries, we’re a sedentary nation.

Childhood obesity is a big problem in this country, as is adult obesity. Healthcare costs are soaring, yet we’re building elementary schools without gyms today.

Club sports and travel teams for elite youth athletes are thriving but recreational youth sports are declining. Most kids are done for sports for life by the time they turn 13.

Europe has club sports organization for athletes from 8 to 80. Meanwhile, club sports opportunities in the United States usually end by the age of 18.

The importance of exercise, whether through organized team sports, pick-up games, individual sports or other physical activities was made very clear to me when I came across a New York Times article written by Aaron E. Carroll titled, “Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise.” It’s a quick synopsis of the many benefits of exercise, especially relative to pharmaceutical drugs.

Of all the things we as physicians can recommend for health, few provide as much benefit as physical activity.

In 2015, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges put out a report calling exercise a “miracle cure.” This isn’t a conclusion based simply on some cohort or case-control studies. There are many, many randomized controlled trials. A huge meta-analysis examined the effect of exercise therapy on outcomes in people with chronic diseases.

There are several nuggets in Carroll’s article. One side effect of reading the piece: You’ll feel a sudden urge to back away from your computer or television and get moving.

Indulge the urge.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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