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  • Emmanuel Bartolome

Why high schoolers should get into sports

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

This may come as a surprise but nearly 75 percent of teens can be considered unhealthy. This shocking claim was made in a University of Georgia study that discovered nearly three in four teenagers do not receive adequate exercise. The study defined adequate activity as receiving at least four to five hours of physical activity a week. Another concerning study showed that nearly 95 percent of teens do not get enough sleep and exercise. According to various medical institutions such as the Harvard Public Health Publication, the worrying trend of physical inactivity and poor health in general has been a growing issue for the American people for at least several decades with the issue likely to worsen in the foreseeable future.

The article, The Status of US Health, 1990-2016 Burdens of Disease, Injury, and Risk Factors Among US States written by Dr. Christopher J.L Murray and published onto the JAMA network, a digital journal of professional and licensed doctors reveals that lifestyles play a very important role in one’s health and wellbeing with risk-factors such as drug usage, a high body mass index and alcohol usage serving as a detriment to one’s health.

" PE, that’s why we do all the different sports in PE (…) It’s so that person knows what they want to do.” Susan Nakashima, Farrington High School PE Teacher

Murray writes, “Many of the risk factors that contribute to the disparities in burden are amenable to medical treatment within the context of supportive behaviors and lifestyle changes.” The article, What Makes Us Healthy vs. What We Spend on Being Healthy made by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a political think tank aimed towards increased bipartisan solutions noted in an infographic that nearly half of one’s health can be attributed to lifestyles rather than access to healthcare services which make up 88 percent of healthcare costs but make up 10 percent of what makes one healthy.

Susan Nakashima, a physical education teacher at Farrington High School noted that there are many various factors that play into one’s health and wellbeing. Some of these factors included lifestyles as these lifestyles are often passed from one generation to another. In an interview, Nakashima used the example of a family with an active lifestyle being likely to pass that lifestyle off to their children. Though Nakashima later noted that lifestyle is something that is commonly inherited, there are times when these lifestyles are not inherited, be it for better or worse.

Due to the fact that there are many various sports, which can be defined as an activity that requires physical prowess and skill, it may be difficult for one to find what they truly want to do. This is why Nakashima noted “If they don’t really know what sport they want to go in, like if they are not sure if they want to go in like basketball or baseball, I guess they can try [various sports out]. Like in PE, that’s why we do all the different sports in PE (…) It’s so that person knows what they want to do.” Trying out various sports to see what one likes most will be the best for finding one’s passion.

Getting into sports and fitness in general has many various health effects. According to Rochester University, benefits from regular exercise include increased muscle strength, increased ability to cope with depressive conditions, improved blood circulation, and a better sleeping experience. According to the WGU article, Exercise and the Brain: How Fitness Impacts Learning, exercise allows the mind to be wide awake, increasing the efficiency in learning and retaining information. Exercise has been found to reduce stress and allow one to better cope with ADHD, anxiety and panic disorders.

Nakashima added that sports can allow one to develop physical skills such as hand-eye coordination, dribbling and flexibility in addition to useful life skills such as time management, communication and organization which will work to build one’s character and personality.

The National Federation of State High School Association notes that while sports programs are generally underfunded the effect of these programs punch far beyond their pay grade and higher likelihood to attend college. At Your Own Risk, also notes that sports can cause student athletes to get 40 percent higher test scores, being less likely to engage in toxic activities like smoking and drugs and being more involved in one’s community through volunteer work, following the news and voting.

When asked if one should choose between getting into sports or exercising when one has the goal of becoming fit in mind, Nakashima noted that exercising may be best but only for individuals with intrinsic motivation, individuals who are motivated from within and have developed a true passion for fitness. But for individuals without intrinsic motivation, sports would be better as it is easier to continue due to the satisfaction derived from the experience.

While sometimes it may be difficult to get all the people required to play a specific sport, for example soccer traditionally requires at least 22 people, one can still practice that sport with far fewer people than required or even practice alone. As an example, Nakashima noted that while basketball requires several players to be fully functional, one can still practice by dribbling and making dunks.

A guide on signing up for Farrington sports, states that joining a school sports team requires one to fill out forms. One can either visit the Farrington High School athletics page and press the Athletic Participation Form and print it out or either ask a coach for a form. Once the paperwork is fully completed, one can go to the Athletic Training Facility which is located in the stadium. In addition, it is mandatory that a student brings their own water bottle. While these are not all the instructions and recommendations from the guide, it is still best to refer back to the guide.

Several important habits one should develop include drinking water, warming up and cooling down. Drinking water is vital to one’s health and wellbeing as Nakashima noted that, “Water is life [as] it makes up 70 percent of the body.” Warming up is important because it allows the body to be in peak condition and greatly reduces the chance of physical injury. Nakashima noted that some of these methods include reaching one’s arm out towards the sky, jumping jacks and going up or down the stairs. Cooling down is also important because it allows the body to steadily decrease one’s heart rate into a state of relaxation. Nakashima noted that cooling down can also be done with the prior mentioned exercises and in addition to drinking water.

While it may be difficult for one to take their first step towards greater health and wellbeing, it would still be best to take immediate initiative towards greater success, as the first step towards action is always the beginning of a new and better life.

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