Physical education: four more years!

Gabe Gowen ’21

Visceral fat is a silent killer. It is the fat that surrounds organs — fat that doesn’t show outside. Based on your lifestyle, diet, and activity, one may have an idea of their visceral fat level, but it really isn’t obvious. America is drowning in visceral fat. The blame falls on the American high school.

Grab your phone. You will see healthy, attractive people. You don’t see the countless Americans who are obese, or simply wish to improve, but don’t know how.

There is no denying the correlation between one’s mental and emotional health and their physical ability. We neglect the latter. For that, we suffer. 

America was already aware of this crisis. Then a global pandemic struck. On March 13, 2020, the obesity issue, like almost everything else that day, got worse. 

Gyms closed. People ate out of stress and lost motivation. Alcohol consumption rose. The suffocating layer of fat surrounding this country thickened.

It is easy to chalk up America’s fatness to laziness. I am sure foreigners love to think that we are all fat and lazy, and we never work. Why would we, those who have nothing to work for, exercise?

Unfortunately, the reality is far more upsetting. In truth, a lot of people don’t know how to exercise. They don’t know their bodies, they don’t know when to do cardio, what macronutrients are, or how to calculate them. Even if they wanted to get better, they simply would not know how.

Attention, energy, social interactions, stress, and depression all improve with physical fitness. 

Gabe Gowen

Cleary, one year of P.E. in high school just isn’t cutting it. High schools must require four years of physical education if we are to survive. This knowledge is not rocket science. It does not take a genius to understand fitness. All we need is instruction — instruction we fail to provide.  

The benefits of P.E in high school go beyond physique. Attention, energy, social interactions, stress, and depression all improve with physical fitness. 

It can also help aid the effects of poverty. Let’s face it. In some lower-income areas, children may be less likely to be exposed to various sports, or have less out of school time to exercise. Adding school supervised P.E. to every year of high school is an effective, necessary way to deal with one negative effect of income inequality. 

The bottom line is we are in trouble. Many have the knowledge to help, but without more opportunities, our country will just get fatter. So I say this to America’s schools: the ball’s in your court. 

Author: Gabe Gowen '21

Gabe Gowen ‘21 is a student in the journalism seminar. He participated in the English IV* program in the fall, and particularly enjoys trying to act as the voice of the common man at Haverford: something he finds often overlooked. Gowen plays on the Water Polo Team, is the Chairman of the Honor Council, and a member of the Notables.