The right to exercise

As I finished class on Friday here in Korea, I asked my fifth-grade student what she would be doing this weekend. She answered, “Studying!”

“Oh,” I said, “well, make sure you get plenty of rest and get some exercise!”

“I can’t. I have to study.”

Another friend who has completed high school, told me that her parents don’t want her to enroll in dance or exercise classes, …just study! While it’s true that most kids in Korea get very little exercise, boys do tend to play soccer at lunch time at least.

But, it’s not only Korea that restricts physical exercise. When I was in Saudi Arabia, most girls told me that they don’t walk and they don’t exercise. There, it’s not about time, but instead it is about what is considered proper for women and girls to do.

I grew up spending time outdoors, playing in the neighborhood, on the neighborhood swim team, and later on high school gymnastics and soccer teams. Playing sports and being physically fit has been a rewarding part of my life.

Of course, this isn’t only in some cultures. In general, more and more jobs require us to sit for long periods of time.

Let’s acknowledge the basic fact that human bodies were designed to move.

Our bodies are not simply vehicles for our brains. We can’t expect our brains to be flexible, quick and strong, while not granting our bodies the same qualities.

I am standing up for the human right to move. Everyone, but especially girls and women, deserves the basic right to dance and exercise.

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