Educators should read the article in the New York Times, Savings, Longevity, and the Year in Fitness, by Gretchen Reynolds, (@gretchenreynold), who is the physical education columnist for NY Times Well blog and author of the bestseller, The First 20 Minutes. She reports on studies which show that people who ignore their health and fitness are in jeopardy of early death due to heart disease and annual health costs that jeopardize saving for the future. She reports on two studies that represent the focus of her article.
The first is 42 percent and represents the extent by which people’s risk for premature death rises if they are out of shape, according to a study published in July. That number almost equals the risk of early death associated with heavy smoking.
The second figure is $2,500 and is the amount of money that each of us most likely could save annually on medical costs related to heart disease if we walked for 30 minutes most days, according to a wonderfully pragmatic study released in September.
It raises this question for me about schooling in the United States. Do we offer our students enough exposure and education to issues of that pertain to their health and financial well-being? How much educational programming in school is devoted to helping students understand nutrition and its impact on a person’s long-term health? From my experience, almost none. Students might receive a quarter or semester health class that devotes a small portion of the curriculum to nutrition, but that may be all they are ever exposed to. Relatively few students graduate from their K-12 educational experience having any knowledge of financial literacy. Is it any wonder that Americans are basically uninformed about their health and nutrition and its impact on their long-term financial security? We have work to do in redesigning K-12 curricula so that students graduate ready to live informed, healthy and secure lives.