Running, walking, or just plain playing

On our Facebook page, sharing doesn’t equal endorsement. In fact, some of the liveliest discussions have been about areas of disagreement. I say, when asked, that I post items of interest to people who approach fitness from a feminist perspective. But it’s “big tent” feminism. We don’t agree about everything.

I usually browse through a number of news sites in the morning looking for things of interest to those who follow our page. The blog is Tracy and me but the Facebook page is pretty much (with occasional posts from Catherine, Cate, Nat, and Tracy) just me. Tracy is Twitter and I’m Facebook.

Mostly I love our Facebook page but sometimes I can’t take the criticism over the selection of items I post. It’s as in people thought it were a fulltime job curating our Facebook page rather than something I cram in between showering and breakfast!

It was in the spirit of “interesting idea but I’m not sure what I think of it?” that I shared this story about a Scottish school that gets kids out to run a mile each day.

Many of our page followers objected to framing this in terms of the “war on childhood obesity.” Agreed. I hate that kind of talk too.

Others hated that it was about running. Aren’t there other kinds of exercise? Agreed. Of course.

Finally, some people thought it shouldn’t even be about exercise at all. What happened to childhood play? Can’t kids have both?

I’ve written about this before on other blogs. See Let’s stop talking about childhood exercise over the Impact Ethics blog.

I know at my kids’ school pretty much all games that involved running around were ruled out for fears of contact and violence. No tag, no football or rugby, and in some schools no gymnastic moves. See No cartwheels for you! Just soccer remained. People who research children’s physical inactivity sometimes call this the “protection paradox.” We want to keep children safe so we make them sit down and stay still but that behavior has its own serious long term health risks. We’re not really protecting them at all.

When young my kids often exercised indoors at their desks. My son’s teacher had them dancing at least to fun songs like “New York, New York” as their QDPA (he told me). What’s QDPA, you ask. Quality Daily Physical Activity. Now, I’m not knocking dancing or show tunes. He wasn’t either. But it seemed odd to that we even needed the category of QPDA.

The next year my son’s new teacher introduced daily running for QDPA and he sent home notes saying he was shocked to discover that only a few of the kids could run 2 km. Most of them walked. But I am not sure what we expect if we keep children inside and then force them to run as a deliberate exercise rather than as part of play or a game.

Apologies to Facebook page readers who thought I was endorsing joyless daily running as part of the war on childhood obesity. That’s not my style.

2 thoughts on “Running, walking, or just plain playing

  1. We’re starting a Global Challenge team at my uni in a few weeks, and this post has inspired me to get my team out to play some games! Thanks!

  2. People can be very silly. Not understanding risk and therefore limiting opportunities for physical activities is silly. Going out to play frisbee with my team on Friday as part of mental-health awareness week is not silly at all. The germ of the idea came from this blog – thanks!

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