In today’s society health has become almost a daily topic of discussion. Frequently I turn on the news and I hear reports about the dangers of certain foods and how America is rapidly becoming more and more overweight. I recently listened to a podcast that amazed me; it discussed the dangerous amount of sugar that we consume in our daily diets, and I think what was more alarming to me was that it mentioned “Children today are the first American generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, in large part due to obesity.” That is a fully loaded quote that took some time to digest, pardon the pun! It’s just hard to imagine that with the advancement of medicine and during this day and age where life expectancy is supposed to increase, we are taking a huge step backwards because of the foods and drinks that we consume.
It’s no secret that the majority of today’s generation is more interested in video games, computers, and their phones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of spending my time on all of these things, but I think there needs to be more of a balance between non-physical activities and physical fitness. The recommended amount of daily exercise set by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is 60 minutes a day for kids. I know it sounds like a lot at first glance, but there is a good chance that your child is accomplishing this by playing outside during recess, participating in PE class, riding a bike, climbing on playground equipment or walking to school.
Getting physical activity is just half of the battle, another key component which I will admit is the hardest one for me, is eating healthy. You want to make sure that your child has a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Believe me, I know it’s hard some days to come home from a long days work and have to worry about cooking a healthy meal. It’s not easy and it takes time to develop. Temptations from unhealthy foods are all around us, and a place that you would think serves healthy food, may not necessarily always do so. The place that I am talking about is school cafeterias. Recently I came across an article from the New York Times that conducted a study that found “Of 1,000 sixth graders in several schools in southeastern Michigan, it was determined that those who regularly had the school lunch were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home.” The study also stated that some school “cafeterias rely on high-energy, low-nutrient value food, because it’s cheaper.” Now this one quote does not necessarily fit all schools across the Country, but it does highlight an epidemic of the hidden dangers of cheap, unhealthy foods.
At The Department of Parks and Recreation, we believe passionately in living healthy and active lifestyles. We believe in it so much that we developed a committee to help be the advocates in our community to spread the word about the importance of good health. Our Health/Wellness and Livable Community Committee is open to anyone that would like to join. No special experience is required, just a passion for talking and finding ways of making our community a healthier one. Some of our goals include developing ways to make the younger generation a healthier one and putting on special events throughout the year that highlight active living.
I understand that living a healthy lifestyle can at times be difficult. The good thing is that your path to good health can start right here at the Manassas Park Community Center. This Fall we are not only offering new fitness and dance classes, but we have new aquatics classes for the water lovers, and for the sports people we are offering several new adult, school age and teen leagues that include indoor soccer, kickball, dodgeball, basketball and ultimate frisbee to name a few. However you want to achieve your goal of living a healthy and active lifestyle, we support it. Please take a moment to review the mosaic which is currently on-line at www.manassasparkcommunitycenter.com and find a class or program that interest you or your child and we’ll see you here at the Community Center.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Tony Thomas is the Recreation Services Supervisor of the Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703.335.8872 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Matters is a blog created by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. The blog features program updates, announcements of new services, special event notices, or information of general interest.
This blog contains excerpts from “Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, Episode #19” and “Childhood: Obesity and School Lunches By RONI CARYN RABIN”