By Ken Reed
Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard researcher and author of the groundbreaking book SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, believes our kids need to be exercising a lot more in school than they currently are. He says more physical activity in our nation’s schools is critical, not just for wellness reasons in this era of childhood obesity, but also to grow brain cells and enhance brain function.
Movement is as fundamental to the development of the brain as it is to the body, according to Ratey. A growing stack of research studies strongly indicates that fit kids perform better academically, have fewer behavioral problems, and miss fewer school days due to illness. Open-minded school principals, who are facing increasing pressures to boost standardized test scores, are intrigued by the idea of exercise as a learning readiness tool.
“Exercise is like Miracle-Gro for the brain,” says Ratey. “It grows brain cells.”
However, the unfortunate reality is that too many schools are actually cutting physical education classes — and recess — due to the mistaken belief that more seat time in math, science, and language arts classes is necessary to boost test scores. The reality is that daily quality, fitness-based, physical education is the best thing our country’s educators could do to boost academic performance.
Make no mistake about it, Ratey isn’t talking about old school physical education here. “Learning readiness” PE is much different than traditional “gym” classes that emphasize team sports and games like dodge ball.
Phil Lawler, a pioneer in the fitness-based PE movement, described quality physical education this way:
“It’s about enabling each student to maintain a physically-active lifestyle forever. It means emphasizing fitness and well-being, not athleticism. It eliminates practices that humiliate students. And it assesses students on their progress in reaching personal physical activity and fitness goals. A quality PE program exposes kids to the fun and long-term benefits of movement – it’s really that simple.”
We need more of this type of “New PE” in our schools today. The result would be healthier students, who have fewer behavioral problems, and perform better academically.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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