Apr 22, 2011
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How many T.V. commercials and magazine ads promise weight loss and the benefits of exercise? What if exercise not only helped you lose weight, but also raised your self-esteem? Two for the price of one…

It seems like only yesterday when I received a letter from Dr. Wynn F. Updyke with Indiana University’s School of Health Physical Education and Recreation. I was surprised to learn that Jose Clemente Orozco Academy ( a Chicago Public School) had been selected as one of the sites for a three year longitudinal study of Physical Fitness, Self
Esteem and Academic Achievement of Elementary School Children. Having been this school’s Fitness Director, I am still reminded years later how lucky I was to work directly with this accomplished but humble icon in the field health and physical education. I was curious to learn more about “self-esteem” and it’s correlation to fitness since I was convinced based on my own experiences that higher levels of self-esteem could come with increased exercise and an improved level of personal fitness.

Self – esteem means “appreciating one’s own self worth and importance, and having the character to be accountable for self, and to act responsibly towards others.” I guess it’s fair to say that reading recent headlines even our professional athletes and Olympic heroes sometimes fall short in the self-esteem category.

Now fourteen years later, I have mixed feelings about this as I find myself wrapping up a 16 week pilot fitness program for “at risk” inner city junior high Hispanic girls. I was surprised and deeply disappointed to discover that most of them still face the same fitness and health risks that I encountered with Dr. Updyke’s research. Blood pressures were elevated, body fat percentages were high and very few of these junior high girls participated in a regular exercise program.

That didn’t stop our “Right Fit” team; we were “ready”, organized and committed to hands on training and developing healthier habits for those junior high students. Whatever the deficiency or disability, we knew successful instruction depended on individual customization of fitness goals and objectives. At the end of our 16 sessions we knew every student’s abilities, interests, ambitions and dreams. Although we did not measure their “self-esteem all the girls were generally proud and had a new sense of pride. When are we coming back?” they asked. Whatever the research, I remain convinced that passionate people combined with the “right fit” fitness program tailored to an individual needs will markedly change their lives and improve their self- esteem!

Two for the price of one …powerful stuff!

Author: suzanne