fitness · kids and exercise

Twist surprise endings? For movies– fine; for exercise studies, not so fine

I’m not a horror fan at all.  The blood and gore just gross me out, even if they’re comically unrealistic. But the worst part for me (which I know is the best part for others) is the surprise twists, especially at the end.  I get confused, distracted, scared if it’s scary, and really grossed out to the point of nightmares sometimes. And this includes experiences even after the age of 10. So I don’t watch them.

We know to steel ourselves for surprise twists at the end of movies.  But who prepares themself for an out-of-the-blue and contrary-to-the-plot twist in an article on  the connections between physical activity and health in kids? Not me, and probably not you.

 

Square computer-generated sad person, with "This person is not available" message.
Square computer-generated sad person, with “This person is not available” message.

 

So imagine my surprise when, while reading an article reporting results of a study finding a correlation between more time spent being physically active and better metabolic health among adolescents, it switches gears completely at the end, saying this:

Professor Bell explains: “This suggests that it’s never too late to benefit from physical activity, but also that we need to remove barriers that make activity hard to maintain. Keeping it up is key. This includes making weight loss via diet a priority, since higher weight is itself a barrier to moving.”

 

Say what?!
Say what?!
balloon with typographical marks indicating "What?!"
balloon with typographical marks indicating “What?!”

Here is what the study itself said:

A group about 1800 girls and boys born around 1991-92 were studied on three different occasions from 2003 to 2008.  The researchers were looking for connections between levels of physical activity and biological markers of their overall metabolic health (e.g. cholesterol types, triglycerides, etc.– 230 in total).  What they found was this:

  • Better metabolic health was associated with recent moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, regardless of previous activity patterns (this is a bit more complex, but basically correct).
  • Worse metabolic health was associated with more sedentary activity patterns.
  • The correlation between moderate-to-vigorous activity and metabolic health wasn’t weaker for subgroups with higher body fat (which could mean those who have a history of less physical activity, or also those with higher BMI).

They conclude here:

Our results support associations of physical activity with metabolic traits that are small in magnitude and more robust for higher MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] than lower sedentary time. Activity fluctuates over time, but associations of current activity with most metabolic traits do not differ by previous activity. This suggests that the metabolic effects of physical activity, if causal, depend on most recent engagement.

There’s nothing here about losing weight as a causal factor or salient feature in their analysis.  So why did the main author say that in the article? I decided to dig a little deeper, which means going to the original full article.  I’m doing it, so you don’t have to– it’s part of the service we provide at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

 Person in tuxedo, holding a tray with message "full service".
Person in tuxedo, holding a tray with message “full service”.

 

Here’s what’s going on: in their discussion of where their study fits in the literature on metabolic health, physical activity, body weight, and risks for e.g. type 2 diabetes in youth, they say this:

much of the association of higher activity with lower subsequent adiposity is driven by reverse causation in this data… [there appears to be] a lowering effect of total activity on fat mass and blood pressure… The standardised effect size was 6 times larger in the reverse direction, however—from fat mass to inactivity—suggesting that adiposity affects activity levels more than activity levels affect adiposity.

Effect sizes matter a great deal for public health messaging since the existence of an association, or indeed a causal effect, does not alone describe its importance. Future work should compare magnitudes of effect size between common risk factors as the rate of discovery and the need to prioritise limited public health resources both increase.

The researchers say their results (and literature) support the idea that (in adolescents), body weight affects physical activity levels up to 6 times as much as activity level affects body weight.  This part is no surprise, as loads of studies support the view that exercise doesn’t result in much of any weight loss.

Here’s a surprise, though (and this one isn’t scary, so it’s okay to keep reading): saying that body weight influences physical activity (that is, kids with higher body weights tend to be less active) means to the researchers that we need to work on our public health messaging, as this is very important.

YES!  Of course we need to work on this. Movement at every size and shape and ability (and age, too, of course) helps us in just about every way.

But then (now the scary part is coming, be warned), the main researcher, Joshua Bell (not the violinist, I assume) has to go and say that, because higher weights are a barrier to increased physical activity, that kids should “make weight loss via diet a priority.”

A big NO.
A big NO.

 

Why no? Because 1) no one knows how to bring about and maintain weight loss via diet in kids (or anyone else); 2) we do know how to remove barriers to increased physical activity for kids with higher body weights. How do we do this?

  • attack fat shaming and weight stigmatization of kids everywhere we find it;
  • create opportunities for fun, non-competitive, easy-to-do movement for kids, done at their own pace and for reasonable time lengths, with no measuring, and lots of assistance and support;
  • work on ways to incorporate those conditions for movement into the everyday lives of kids and the people around them;
  • never use the word diet again around them (or anyone, for that matter).

This kind of public health messaging and programming is something we can all agree to.  And that’s no surprise.

The End, with scary shadowy castle in background.
The End, with scary shadowy castle in background.

 

 

 

 

 

fitness · running

On Not Qualifying for Boston, After All

By Alison Conway

Image description: two silver metal engraved charms, top one says "Boston Qualifier" and bottom one says "BQ" (available from: https://www.inspiredendurance.com/boston-qualifier-bq-charm/)
Image description: two silver metal engraved charms, top one says “Boston Qualifier” and bottom one says “BQ” (available from: https://www.inspiredendurance.com/boston-qualifier-bq-charm/)

The imposter syndrome many women suffer pops up in the news occasionally, when a successful CEO describes her fears of being exposed as a fraud, ill-qualified for her job and not good enough to stay at the board room table. It’s a sad story, since the women who seem to suffer most seem the least likely to qualify as real frauds, with stellar records of achievement to back up their stories. They are not products of spin, but victims of a culture that tells them, over and over again, that they’re not good enough. And they suffer, I’m guessing, sleepless nights and acute bouts of anxiety.

I should know, since my own needle is stuck permanently in the red zone on the fraud metre. Occasionally I forget to look at it, but whenever I check, there’s the needle–in the red. It doesn’t come back down to yellow for a while. It’s always red, all the time, and neither the metre nor the needle pays any mind to promotions, raises, or what have you. I try to ignore both, but that needle is always poking me in the side, reminding me that the next publication needs to go to press, the next class syllabus must be better than the last. I find praise embarrassing.

Which is why taking up running was such a good idea, three years ago. Because running you can’t fake. There’s a clock that times each race and that time is real. Or is it?  It was a strange experience, this spring, to run my first marathon and finish with a Boston qualifying time. Exhilarating, of course! But also unnerving. Because it turns out a Boston qualifying time is not a Boston qualifying time. So many people want to run Boston that you must run faster than the qualifying time. In my case, I had a buffer of over four minutes. Surely that had to be enough?

But it wasn’t. This year, the actual qualifying time for all age groups was 4 minutes and 56 seconds faster than the posted BQ times. So I’m not going to run Boston next April. Boston is sorry. It has changed its 2020 qualifying times to reflect the new realities of runners and their speed.

Image description: Alison (short blond hair, sunglasses) at the finish line of the Toledo Marathon, foil blanket over shoulders, medal around neck, sunglasses, smiling. People and finishing arch in background. Partly cloudy skies.
Image description: Alison (short blond hair, sunglasses) at the finish line of the Toledo Marathon, foil blanket over shoulders, medal around neck, sunglasses, smiling. People and finishing arch in background. Partly cloudy skies.

Enter the imposter syndrome. I ran my first marathon on a perfect day and on a perfect course. The temperature was lovely, the course was flat but not too flat, and I came to the race well-trained and with no nagging injuries. So, of course, I ran the race I should have run. It was no great victory, just a solid run with every advantage on my side.

Not getting into Boston means I now must prove that I am a real runner. That is, put myself through another grueling winter of training, run another race in conditions that may not so ideal, face down the challenge of running a faster time at an older age. A real runner, I’ve decided, is one who mentally can face what each race presents to her: the threat of failure.

What keeps me from quitting is the faith that my running friends keep for me, even when I can’t keep it for myself. They will be there for whatever transpires next spring, when I make a second attempt to run a BQ. They know that racing is not about faking it but about showing up, whether the time you post places you among the top-ranked runners in your age group, or not.

This is why taking up running has proven the best decision I could have made, at 50: because runners support each other, through thick and thin. They pull the needle out of the fraud meter and look at the road under their feet, instead. They recognize a solid effort when they see one, and they acknowledge it with their words of encouragement and their commitment to showing up for the next effort. And the next.

Alison Conway runs and works in Kelowna, BC.

fitness

Sleeping Goofy

A few months ago, I lost the knack for sleeping.

It wasn’t that I *couldn’t* fall asleep, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t sleeping for long enough,  the problem was that the quality of my sleep was poor.

I thought I had tried everything  – I went to bed earlier, I stayed in bed later. I stopped taking my ADD meds for while in case they were the problem.

Nothing worked.

I was doing basically okay but my energy was low and I felt out of sorts. Exercising felt like a HUGE effort.

I thought I should try to change my sleep environment – perhaps I was too warm, too cold, or the room was too light.

Then I remembered how, a few years ago, I had to ditch my light-based alarm clock because as soon as it brightened at all, I immediately woke up fully. There was no gentle awakening, I was asleep and then AWAKE and still tired.

And I thought about how, even though I went to bed fairly early, half the household was going to sleep after I did so there were lights going on and off in the hall as they got ready for bed. And then I considered that, when the sun rose, an unavoidable sliver of light leaked around my curtain and woke me up.

I thought about trying to get them to change which lights they turn on, and maybe buying a darker curtain for my room. That seemed complex and possibly expensive.

That’s when I hit on the solution….a sleep mask!

I even had one already – it came with a pair of pajamas my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago.

In my mind’s eye, I was going to look like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all sleepy glamour and tassled earplugs. (I can’t actually imagine wearing earplugs to sleep but to each their own)

Actress Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. She is a slender, brown-haired woman and she looking out around her apartment door. Only her head and one shoulder can be seen, she is wearing a light blue sleep mask pushed up on her forehead and there is a tassel visible, dangling from her right ear.
Audrey and I have very little in common, apparently. 😉

In reality, of course, I look ridiculous.  

More sleeping goofy than sleeping beauty.

The author, a white woman in her 40s with chin-length brown hair, is wearing pink and white pyjamas and  a white sleep mask that has black stars on it. She is smirking. The background of the photo is green.
See what I mean? Totally foolish. PS – My pajamas read ‘waking up is hard to do’ – ha!

Luckily I don’t have to watch myself sleep* – I can just enjoy the process.

And I REALLY enjoy waking up feeling refreshed.

It’s not just that the mask helps me regulate the light level in the room, it has also become a signal that it’s time to sleep. It’s almost like a focusing tool for resting. (I even use when I am taking nap)

Even though it feels faintly ridiculous, this small change has made a HUGE difference in my life.

Totally worth feeling like sleeping goofy.

Have you ever tried a sleep mask? Could you sleep while wearing earplugs? Do you have any other tricks for making your environment more amenable to a good night’s sleep?

PS – Yes, I have also tried melatonin, on the advice of my doctor, and it’s great. That was after the mask solved the problem, though.  The melatonin just makes things a bit better again.

PPS – Also, I have been able to start taking my ADD meds again which makes life a lot easier.

*I’d end up awake all night laughing at myself. Even that photo is cracking me up. All glam, all the time, that’s me!

competition · Fear · feminism

Running into my mojo

photo-1526398977052-654221a252b1
Mic on a floor stand in front of soft focus room full of people

I’m giving a talk in Nashville this weekend at HT Live! The topic is identity alignment and authenticity, so that has been much on my mind these last days. I wrote about it here. A topic like authenticity forces the speaker to confront her own inconsistencies (okay, even hypocrisies). As the talk gets closer, I think, “I’m a fraud.” I think, “I’m no expert.” My confidence starts to tank.

 

This is the moment when I remind myself of the manner in which men claim expertise in so many domains without a second thought. I recall interviewing Jane Blalock for my book, Run Like A Girl: How Strong Women Make Happy Lives. She’s a former golf pro who, among other things, offers golf clinics for women. She told me how women come to her to brush up on their golf game, because they are worried about a business-networking event. Only to discover, the men are not nearly as good golfers as they claim to be.

Lack of confidence plagues women from puberty. How Puberty Kills Girls’ Confidence, in a recent issue of The Atlantic, covers a range of studies that expose the inflection point, somewhere between 12 and 14-years old, when girls’ sense of self worth plummets. Interestingly, one of the things girls say is this, “I feel that if I acted like my true self that no one would like me.” 

Girls think that if they are authentic, then no one will like them. No wonder I’m having confidence issues around this speaking topic! It’s a double whammy. Because, as The Atlantic points out, once girls’ confidence gets killed off, it often never rebounds back to the same level as boys’ and men’s. I remember my father once saying to me that he didn’t understand why I wasn’t more confident. He told me that his memories of me as a child were of a happy, outgoing, even brash little girl. He was right. And he had missed the moment that went south.

Lest I get the idea that at least things have gotten better for girls than in my day, there’s social media to thwart progress. As the article points out: There’s no distance anymore—only constant, instant, and public condemnation or praise.

What to do? I go to my Tuesday morning aerial Pilates class and I don’t give up on the push-ups-in-plank series as I usually do. I go for a run Thursday morning and push a little harder than usual. I literally recoup my confidence through the strength of my own body. I run into my mojo. As if it’s somewhere out there, ahead of me and I just need to catch up to my own confidence, my own better self.

photo-1517036391698-b004444390fe
Lioness head

The Atlantic article says this: Some of the most compelling data links participation in sports to professional success. A study from the accounting firm EY and espnW, ESPN’s women’s site, found that 94 percent of the women currently with C-suite jobs in the U.S. played competitive sports. It’s not only through athletics that young girls can gain confidence; sport is simply an organized and easily available opportunity to experience loss, failure, and resilience.

I never played competitive team sports and I came late to competing in running races and triathlons and cross-country ski marathons and such. But even my belated participation has been a boon in my life.

I know. Sports aren’t enough. And sometimes our sports aren’t available, because we’re injured. I’ve been there, many times! But when we have sports in our toolbox of confidence-builders, what a loyal friend. Getting red in the face resets my perspective. Sweat exhales bad energy. And those endorphins are an excellent, non-prescription, chemical pick-me-up.

Do I feel 100% go-get-em about my talk now? Not quite. But I’m focusing on the final preparation now, instead of my right to be at the front of the room. I belong there.

Uh oh, I’m backsliding. Even writing those last couple of sentences and stating my self-worth feels nerve wracking.

photo-1512242712282-774a8bc0d9d3
Neon sign with red lettering: I AM BOLD

 

Do you have these crises of confidence? How do we pitch in to make things better for girls?

fitness

It’s been a day. . .

It’s been a heck of a day blog community. Not at all in a good way. Most of us over here on the contributor side have been glued to screens either watching or reading about the hearings in Washington.

Last week, I read an article in the Washington Post about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that moved me to tears. The thing that is so wrenching about her story is how ordinary it is. You know what I mean. A thing happens at a party or on a date and we don’t know really what meaning to make of it, so we push it aside and try to move on then, eventually, it catches up. Perhaps not so dramatically as her story with not so much riding on it, but it catches up one way or another. In any scenario, public or private, we suffer.

This story moved me to the point that I wrote an email to one of the journalists in the by-line, Jessica Contrera. I hoped that it might get through to Christine if the journalist was the gatekeeper. Today, on this day of days, she wrote me back. It was a simple thank you. I like to hope that she showed it to Christine.

Why am I putting this up here? Well, we bloggers are interested in how fitness enriches our lives in feminist context. We are interested in strength and resilience. We address pain too, injury, trauma and ways we might adapt. It’s notable, perhaps, that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford ran to the edge of her country and immersed herself in surfing. I bet she could write a mean piece for us on surfing and resilience. I hope she does some day. What I’m saying is I feel very much that she is one of us and she is bleeding in public today because she felt she had no other moral choice. I wonder if I knew the guy who date raped me when I was 21 was up for some prominent position that could decide on bodily rights of women, would I be as brave as her? Not sure.

So, here is my email to her. It’s a frustrated wrenching rant of an email and I present it open letter style because what the hell else is there to do on a day like today, where you watch what we watched and hear what we heard and despair that it will make one whit of difference because we may just not matter enough.

Hi Jessica,

I’m just some random Canadian with a WoPo subscription. I’m also a psychotherapist, for what that’s worth. I’m writing to you (after reading an article of yours and a few others) in the hopes you will forward this message to Christine Blasey.

Just tell her I care and I get it and I believe her. I can understand why she needed to blow up her life to tell her story. I understand why she couldn’t live in a country with him on the supreme court. I understand why she probably will have to move, why he will get confirmed anyway, why it still matters that she said something.

It’s so devastating and the world is a cruel place. Especially America is a cruel place. Tell her I don’t know her but I’m holding love in my heart for her. Tell her to come to Canada. Tell her to write a book. Tell her to get off twitter and stay away from email. Tell her to do the work she loves and love the people she loves and that there will be places and hearts in history that know. Tell her I’m sorry for the world.

Just tell her something.

Sincerely,

Susan Tarshis, M.Ed., RP

Registered Psychotherapist

 

ford surfing copy
Here is Dr. Ford looking happy and strong on her board. This is who I think about when I think of her. This is the image that I hope she thinks about too.

blogging · feminism · fitness

Why we can’t promise a feminist space will be a safe space

Image description: Colourful drawing of five women in silhouette, suggestive of diverse ethnicities/races.
Image description: Colourful drawing of five women in silhouette, suggestive of diverse ethnicities/races.

We here at Fit Is a Feminist Issue like to talk about our “big tent feminism” and how we try to make space for everyone. That’s a lofty goal, I know. One of my favourite questions in feminism is “is an inclusive feminism possible?” I use it as a thematic frame for most of my teaching in feminist philosophy and women’s studies, as a way of pushing people in my classes to think about inclusivity and intersectionality not just as theoretical ideas, but in their actual material practices.

It’s hard. We struggle. People get defensive. There are misunderstandings. Hurt feelings. Anger. Difficult conversations. People are called on their privilege and need to look at that. People are afraid to speak for fear of offending, excluding, saying the wrong thing on a multitude of other levels, sounding closed when in fact they are open, hurting others’ feelings, having people be upset with them. Sometimes we find ourselves at an impasse. We have to agree to disagree or be stuck.  This is all in the context of feminism, where the majority of students are already there with respect to the broad strokes of it.

And though I do my best to manage the discussion, to push it forward or in a different direction if any of the above takes place, I can’t promise a totally “safe space” where no one will ever feel shitty, be offended, say the wrong thing.

Because guess what? Feminists disagree amongst themselves sometimes.

Oh, you might say, feminist disagreement isn’t necessarily “unsafe.” Well, that would be right. It isn’t necessarily unsafe. But as Cate said a couple of days ago and as Sam experienced this week, offense can turn to anger and vitriol pretty quickly. And when it does, it’s hard to know who will be in the line of fire. Or, if you feel some responsibility for the space, what to do about it. And sometimes our own content can be the instigator. We post a lot, there are many of us, we don’t spend a ton of time on each post — many risk factors at play.

We often go to what seems like the commonsense solution when things get ugly: tell people to engage respectfully with each other, not to be mean about it, etc. But guess what? That seemingly sensible suggestion is mega-triggering for some. One woman’s “be nice” is another woman’s “tone policing.” There is no feminist on this planet who hasn’t been told at some time or another that her anger is misplaced, that she should “be nice,” that she “shouldn’t” feel that way. It is a dismissive tactic used to undermine legitimate social justice complaints.

If a safe space is a place where you’re insulated from all possible hurtful, harmful, or offensive comments, then even on a feminist page we can’t promise that. It’s not so much the misogynists who take us down — we can deal with them by deleting and blocking. But it’s much harder to take that same approach to other feminists. I mean, we’re all on common ground when it comes to feeling sick to our stomachs about what Christine Blasey Ford is about to endure today, right?

I very much like Cate’s questions that press us to think about what we are making:

In our facebook interactions what are we making? Community? Uncrossable boundaries? Winners and losers? Are we making invitations to respond, or are we making hurt creatures who are going to slink off to their own corners and reload?

Obviously we don’t want to  be making something shitty where people feel awful. I felt awful the other day and engaged in a way that was unhelpful, more emotionally charged than I’d have preferred it to be, and ultimately left me feeling emotionally drained and hungover. That was no one’s fault but my own, because I was angry and defensive and instead of going off and breathing for a bit, I shot back comments seeking to be understood.

The irony of acting exactly like the way I perceived the people who were pissing me off to be acting was not lost on me in the least. That I wanted them to feel compassion for Samantha when I was exhibiting none for them indicates the type of logical block that takes hold. I could feel it happening while not being able to stop. There is a certain adrenaline that gets pumping in these things. Tempers rise. Everything escalates. It’s hard to think clearly. These are times when (for me anyway) silence is a better option.

And when that’s happening, the thing we least want to hear is “whatever whatever but do you mind being nicer?” As one of the angry people said (I’m paraphrasing), “how about trying to understand why we’re angry?” By then lines had been drawn in the sand (this is how it happens) and there was not going to be a lot of understanding.

I get it. Even as I argued and swore (yes, I swore at a reader in the comments on our Facebook page) I could see that this wasn’t a productive way to engage. That people were getting more angry. More hurt. More frustrated. We reached the impasse. More frustrating still because it is among feminists.

Feminist solidarity all the time would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? That kind of sisterhood where we all get one other. But it isn’t like that all the time. The history of feminism, the non-intersectional feminism of privileged, nondisabled white women, claimed to be that — to apply universally to the experience of women. And then feminists of color said, “hang on, your feminism doesn’t include me.”  And disabled feminists said, “wait a minute, your feminism doesn’t include me.” And feminists who lived in poverty said, “you’re not speaking to my experience.” And feminists who didn’t live in “The West” said, “the material realities of our lives aren’t represented by your feminism.”

The women in positions of privilege wanted a big tent, and they said it was open so anyone could wander in. But the tent didn’t feel so inclusive to the women who struggled in ways that the big tent kind of neutralized and didn’t seem to make space for. And so the space didn’t feel safe because they had things to say that couldn’t be said without making the more privileged women feel defensive or attacked or just not quite as comfortable in the tent as they wanted to be and aspired to be.

The road to an inclusive feminism that accurately represents differences among women instead of assuming a homogeneous sameness has been long and winding and difficult, sometimes even divisive, hurtful, harmful, and dangerous to women. No one is trying to make it this way. We aren’t dealing with malicious motives. But invisible privilege — the privilege of asking others to be nice perhaps — yields a type of denial. It’s not intentional, but it makes uptake of different experiences more difficult.

Does this mean that I don’t believe in our “big tent”? Not at all. I believe in it very much. But I am also aware that as big as the tent may be from my/our perspective, it doesn’t feel totally open to everyone all the time. And yes, I would like all the people who enter  — whether through the blog or the Facebook page or the Twitter discussion — to be kind and respectful to each other. Why? Because truly, we are all feminists even if all feminists don’t have exactly the same set of beliefs. But we can’t promise harmonious non-hurtful interactions all the time.

I can say that I myself will attempt to do better. And I know that as a collective we do actually grow through these stormy times.  We’re not perfect (yet!). There is always going to be room to improve, to modify our practices, to do things differently. It never feels good to be attacked, so we can hope that over time, we build up enough good faith that when we misstep and someone wants to let us know, they’ll be kind and not mean about it. But upon reflection, I do think that sometimes even that might be too much to ask.

When people get angry (including when I get angry), that vitriol usually lands on someone. And ouch. No one likes to be on the receiving end of fury. Sometimes it’s directed at one of the blog authors. Other times it’s a member of our community who has ventured to post a comment. But that we can post things that anger and upset people, and that people’s anger can land on us and others are both reasons for saying that as much as we would love to keep it all nice and kind and civil and harmonious, we can’t promise to do that.

fitness

Requiring physical activity classes helps sedentary college students be more active but will it ruin their lives?

Lots of us here on the blog have written about mandatory physical education turning us off exercising for a very long time. See here. Also here.

Sally had the strongest language, How Gym Class Ruined My Life. Hence, the title of this post.

We all professed relief when mandatory physical education came to an end.

So I was surprised to see this story make its way across my newsfeed. “When physical activity classes were required, university students not only got more active, their attitude also changed – they were more motivated to stay active in the future.”

When it was required at university students were more motivated. Really. Well, that’s what the study shows.

What do I think about requiring Phys Ed at university?

First, as a university administrator, generally I’m a fan of breadth requirements. Teach the engineers to write and to appreciate art. Make the artists take math. We should all know some economics, some basic science, introductory philosophy, and read really good books. I know there are limits but at the undergrad level I like the idea of well-roundedness. 

Second, I used my own tuition waiver as a graduate student to take PE classes for credit. I’m not sure I would be as comfortable in the weight room as I am now without my B in Fundamentals of Weight Training. I learned to deadlift from the Illinois Drug Free Collegiate Deadlifting champion. I also took Intro to Sailboat Racing to learn to sail small dinghies and use Northwestern’s lasers. Fun times. 

But still, students are adults. Maybe they should get to choose? But if I’m okay making them take a second language why not make them take gym? I guess my paternalism has limits. Its scope is university education, not leading a good life overall. I mean maybe they’d all benefit from a class on relationship skills. That might be true but I don’t think I’d require it, even I ran the zoo (to quote Dr. Seuss). 

What do you think? How would you have felt being forced to take Phys Ed at university/college? 

 

Image description: Women doing yoga, downward dog with one leg raised high, on hardwood floors, on yoga mats, view partly obscured by green fronds. 
Photo by Rima Kruciene on Unsplash