Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Maybe I'm feeling all nostalgic lately over the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon and Paul McCartney's recent concert in New York, but when I found the "Chicken Fat" recording on YouTube, I was so excited.
I ask just about everyone who is around my age if they remember doing push-ups and squat thrusts while listening to Robert Preston singing "Chicken Fat" during elementary school gym class. Some people do, but lots of people either don't remember or insist they never heard of it. (When I try to explain it to my sons and sing it to them, they just stare blankly at me and don't understand the whole concept.)
If you, too, have fond memories of working out in gym class while wearing those lovely white one-piece gym suits with the ballooning legs, here's something that'll make you smile.
In 1961, when President Kennedy sent this recording to schools throughout the U.S. in an attempt to promote physical fitness through his Youth Fitness Program, I think he was onto something - it was a great way to sneak in some fun exercise. Active children are more likely to become active adults, after all. When I think back, I remember dreading the monotony of doing this every day - but once I started, I actually enjoyed the way it made me feel. Sounds kind of like what exercise feels like, still - sometimes I'm just not in the mood to go to the gym and have to really push myself, but once I've worked out I'm so glad I did.
And it seems like every day I'm reading about - or witnessing - things like portion distortion in our meals or the mounting obesity epidemic in our country, particularly among children and minorities. Since 1980, the percentage of obesity has doubled in children ages 6 to 11 and tripled in adolescents aged 12 to 19, setting the stage for future health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke...not to mention poor self-esteem and discrimination.
What's the answer, I wonder? I know he's very busy, and I'm happy that overhauling the health system is number one on his agenda. But maybe our current president, who is a boomer himself (I wonder if he or Michelle remembers "Chicken Fat?") needs to consider funding a recording similar to the one I so fondly remember. Okay, maybe the "Chicken Fat" tune is terribly outdated; but I'm sure there are lots of recording artists out there who would welcome the opportunity to be heard daily by millions of school-aged children, don't you think?
Click here for tips for keeping you motivated (even if you are not listening to Chicken Fat!)