Teachers as Trainers? Fighting the Flab in School

September 27, 2013
by Brett Harris
Teachers as Trainers? Fighting the Flab in School

In today's schools, 17 percent of children are considered obese. Few children exercise outside of gym class, and even fewer children are eating healthy meals at home. Lead by First Lady Michelle Obama, the nation's schools are working tirelessly to put an end to childhood obesity. Here's what you may find in a school near you:

Related: 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Out of the Urgent Care

#1 FitDesk

FitDesk is an amazing contraption that looks like it came straight out of the neighborhood fitness center. Developed in Nashville, the FitDesk is essentially nothing more than a stationary bicycle outfitted with a desk. The founders of FitDesk donated 30 bikes to a classroom in Glencliff High School in Nashville. Eventually, the business plans to put 10,000 bikes into schools across the nation.

The premise is simple: Your child studies in class while pedaling at his desk. It's not designed to be a high-intensity workout, but a way to keep moving. Not only are the desks aimed at keeping kids bodies fit, but their minds as well. These desks are popular among adults in the office as well. Studies have shown that the workstations help to improve heart health and sharpen mental focus.

#2 Vending Machines

Gone are the days of vending machines packed with chocolate bars and energy drinks. Schools today are relegated to stocking their machines with snacks that are limited to 200 calories per serving. The vending machines must also sell smaller-sized drinks that are more in line with true serving sizes. What you need to know is that this rule only applies to vending machines. Your kids can still bring cupcakes for birthdays and enjoy bake sales when raising funds.

#3 Recess

Drive by any elementary school on your way to lunch and you may see a few children swinging, a couple sliding and a large number standing around chatting. What you'll rarely see are dozens of children running. Schools can combat this by encouraging more exercise at recess. How? With recess leagues. Kickball games, volleyball tournaments and a few games of PIG get kids moving in a way that is both productive and exciting. Studies have shown that just seven minutes of intense exercise helps to combat childhood obesity.

Related: Playing It Safe: 4 Steps to Playground Safety

#4 Smart Choices

Teachers show their students how to make smart choices every day. These choices rarely include smart choices about food, outside of a few, quick health lessons. Teachers can take it upon themselves to make everyday a lesson about food choices. Sugary snacks can be replaced by chopped vegetables, the class bake sale can turn into the class farm market, and learning how to grow a class garden is an invaluable lesson.

#5 Fitness Instead of Weight Loss

Experts at the CDC recommend not harping on your students about proper weight. Instead, your goals should revolve around teaching children how to make choices that impact their overall health in a positive way. Teach your students about health and fitness in a way that doesn't focus on the negative but, instead, shows them how to make smart choices.

Related: Common Sicknesses in Schools [Infographic]

Teachers wear many hats. Included in your drawer of hats are the roles of dietitian, nutritionist and fitness coach. You spend more time with your students than their own parents do, it only makes sense that you would be one of the biggest influences on healthy decision making.