Lets start with some shocking and sad statistics:
1. According to the After School Alliance, 61.5% of children ages 9-13 do not participate in any organized physical activity outside of school hours, and 22.6% do not engage in any type of physical activity during free time.
2. Childhood obesity has tripled since 1980.
3. More than half the girls and one quarter of the boys ages 6-17 cannot run a mile faster than walking.
4. Forty percent of American children aged 5-8 years show one or more risk factors of heart disease including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and low cardiovascular endurance.
How many of you remember P.E. being your favorite subject in school? I know I do. I always loved to move, to compete, to get up from my desk and go run around. I was fortunate enough to have parents who recognized this love of exercise, and P.E. teachers (Mr. Nelson and Mr. Hart) who made physical education fun. I spent time in after school P.E. classes, sports camps and playing organized sports from the time I was in Kindergarten. I have taken this early love of sport and exercise about as far as any person can, with a degree in Exercise Science, a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and coaching certifications in Strength and Conditioning and Powerlifting.
I literally cannot imagine a day without exercise and sport. I have no memories of a life without regular physical activity. But just because I can't conceive of it, doesn't mean there aren't thousands of kids who never get to experience the pure joy that exercise brings. The cascade of effects on physical health, mental health, and emotional health. The friendships formed in competition. The positive habits that last a lifetime. I may only be able to personally impact a limited number of people, but I hope that through support of Project Fit America, I can play a role in supporting perhaps the single most formative aspect of my own childhood - FITNESS.