Sedentary lifestyles put students at risk

Jamie Scangarella, Staff Writer

Teenagers are used to monotony and routine, especially during their years of high school. For a seven-hour school day, students will spend approximately 86 percent of their school day sitting. When students move from period-to-period, they are only moving from one seat to the next. Parents, doctors, and educators encourage students to participate in clubs and activities that will get them off their seats and moving; nonetheless, it is hard for them to do so when they are tied to a chair all day.

Anne L. Friedlander, Vice President of programs at Connect Well proclaimed, “One of the problems with our school system is we have all these kids, and they’re running around, and they’re very energetic, and they’re playing all these games. And then we take them into school, and we say, you know, ‘Sit down and be still.’ And it’s one of the worst things we can do for their health.”

There are many health disadvantages to sedentary lifestyles. For example, there are effects that can lead to a higher concentration of fat in the blood, insulin resistance, Type-2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
While schools enforce the importance of working hard to do well in school as well as remaining active, they sometimes refute their encouragement by contradicting the active lifestyle. Students come home from school and sit down for up to two to four hours a night doing homework and then sitting down with their families for dinner.

Exercise is as crucial to the body as it is to the mind. Physical activity helps with memory retention as well as relieves stress and boosts brainpower.

“When schools tell children to sit still and be quiet, you’ve almost wounded them. They want to be wiggling and fidgeting and moving,” says Mark Benden, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Some schools have already taken small steps to promote a healthier lifestyle for students. In Texas, some schools are alternately using standing desks to promote physical activity and help students burn more calories during the school day.

As high school prepares teenagers for their futures, it also unintentionally prepares teens for stationary lives due to the accustomed behavior of sitting for an extended period of time.