Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Arnold on Fitness for Kids

Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post

Arnold on Fitness for Kids

Article excerpt

One of my recent films, Kindergarten Cop, introduced me in vivid terms to the excitement and joy that exercise can provide for even the youngest children.

The movie was about a policeman who had to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher. In one of the scenes, the children in the movie do some exercises--and they really got into the program! The more activity we requested, the more fun they had as they yelled, ran, jumped, and, in general, enjoyed themselves. As a result, we actually added more exercise sequences than we had originally planned.

This experience impressed me in several ways. First, it's clear that most children are naturally drawn to vigorous physical activity. Also, the more exercise children do, the more they want to do it. In other words, if given the opportunity and guidance, they easily acquire the exercise habit.

Physical fitness experts such as Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, author of Kid Fitness, emphasize that habits and lessons learned early are more likely to stay with us throughout life. The main idea is to help children get started on a fitness program and then to support them as they find the particular activities or sports that seem most interesting.

As the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, I believe that one of the major goals of any sound physical fitness program should be to benefit as many children as possible. The best approach will focus on promoting challenging but achievable levels of health and well-being for the nonathlete as well as for the child who will go on to play competitive sports. Again, I support one of Dr. Cooper's key themes, that kid fitness must be available for every child at every developmental level.

In this vein, it bothers me that there is only one state, Illinois, that requires daily physical education for all youngsters, from kindergarten through grade 12. …

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