Are American Youth Soft?

Are American Youth Soft?

We in America are inclined to think that we're the biggest, strongest, richest nation on earth. And we are in some ways. But prepare yourself for a shocker. Grab your seat.

Extensive tests of both European and American children, thousands and thousands of them, show European children far ahead of American boys and girls in muscular dexterity, which means ability to handle our bodies. Our fingers, arms, toes, legs—our whole muscular system—is not as well developed as theirs.

You may not believe this. You may say, "It's not so." But it is so. In fact, the president of the United States appointed a special physical fitness committee to see what could be done about it.

Why should Christians be concerned with bodily fitness and exercise? Because our bodies are sacred. God made them. They're the house the soul lives in. If our bodies are strong and healthy, we enjoy life more. Also, we can serve God and our fellow man better. Furthermore, well people are less burden on their families and friends than are sick people.

Just why are American children less well developed muscularly than their European friends? Experts give these reasons: Our modern conveniences and inventions rob us of muscle use. We ride on busses and in cars instead of walking. Our grandfathers walked four miles to school and enjoyed it. Many perfectly healthy American kids won't walk ten blocks. Watch them pile off the busses after school in a typical American city. And what do they do after sitting all day in school and riding home on a bus? Why, they plop themselves down in an easy chair in front of a television set and gape at it until suppertime. Then they plop down again. Not a decent bit of exercise all day.

The Russians have now beaten us twice in the Olympics. We can give all kinds of excuses, but they beat us just the same. Could it be that we're too soft and flabby? We ought to think carefully about the reasons.

We all have exactly the same number of muscles. We can all be healthy and strong, barring a crippling disease. Naturally, not many can look like a Hercules. But we have a duty to ourselves to be healthy.

In Luke we read that Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature." He had a strong body. No single mention is made of his being sick, not one. He used his body in hard work.

I believe American children are victims of their parents' desire for luxury. But if you are a young person, don't let our national worship of ease make you a weakling. Boy or girl, you need and want a strong body. Life will be twice as good if you have one.

Take regular exercise, lots of it. Work up a sweat at least once a day. Walk instead of riding. Use that body of yours—the most marvelous machine in the world. Don't let it get rusty and creaky.

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