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Richard Simmons Advocates for More PE in Our Schools

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I was watching the KTLA morning news today and Richard Simmons was a guest on the show. You remember him, "Sweatin' with the Oldies". Well, now he has turned his attention to the younger generation, and is trying to fight childhood obesity by promoting, of course, more physical activity.

He is specifically advocating for more Physical Education (PE) in schools, or in his words "to put PE back in schools". He's using all the right sound bites like "kids don't learn if they don't move" and "there's more than just math, science and reading". He makes excellent points. Kids who are more fit do perform better on standardized tests.

He's developed an online survey to get the public's opinion on how they feel about lack of PE in schools and whether they think there needs to be more of it. He plans to take the results of the survey to Congress and use this data to lobby for increased PE in schools. And that is definitely something we need. PE has become the first thing to go in this world of "No Child Left Behind" where straight up academics crowd out everything else. Academics are absolutely necessary but it really is true that kids will do better in school the more fit they are. I have to say I applaud his efforts.

Simmons isn't pushing sports so much, but non-competitive physical activity emphasizing fitness rather than athletic skill. And he's right; the kids who are already in sports aren't the ones we really need to worry about. It's the kids who don't necessarily have the athletic ability so they get left out. They don't get picked to be on the 'team'. Simmons is all about just getting kids to move like dancing to Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and Rihanna; getting to kids on another level.

It's an interesting concept to invite the public to respond to an online survey on this particular issue, but it may be effective. We'll see. You can check out the survey at http://richardsimmons.com/askamerica.php. He does ask some personal questions like "are you or your kid overweight" which I think some might find offensive or intimidating. He could have left that out or softened up the questions some.

I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on Simmons campaign and other avenues we can take as a society to get our kids movin'!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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