Tagged in: Move Live Learn Blog, Physical and Health Education, Teaching, Uncategorized, Wellness

Pondering Potential

A call for a shift in the discussion on sedentary lifestyles

I've determined that people really don't care about the connection between physical activity and disease prevention. I suppose that's because when this is first learned, youth are too young to think abstractly enough to fully understand the relationship and potential consequences. Thus, they continue on a path of physical inactivity and consuming unhealthy food. In turn, they go through life thinking the way they feel is normal - even though their normal equates with not feeling well, at all.

I propose that it's time we shift the conversation. 

How about a little less talk about cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndromes, cancers, etc. and a little bit more talk about...


If you are someone who moves your body, share in the comments below how you feel after doing so.  Productive or unproductive? Useful or useless? Bitter or grateful? Along this line, how do you feel when you eat a plate full of unhealthy food?  Energetic or sluggish? For many people they never feel great and they never get to experience the sense of empowerment that comes from living a healthy life. 

In a world that wants quick fixes, the message to move is too focused on long-term disease prevention that youth can't relate to. It's not focused enough on helping them to find the type of activity they love doing and thus, the potential and empowerment from improving and attaining goals in that movement.

It makes me sad that so many people don't see the word possible in impossible because they currently functioning at levels below their potential.


Think about the untapped potential in your family. Your school. Your town. Your country. The world.  It's crazy cool to think about where we could be as a human race if we unlocked the potential dormant in youth and adults alike.

So, I ask, how can we collectively move forward to untap this potential?

It's not enough to play random games in PE, it's not enough to have recess, and it's certainly not enough to regurgitate the five components of physical fitness. 

What is enough? When our society feels competent and confident in movement, understands how movement helps them cope effectively and to feel good physically and emotionally, and chooses to find ways to move often so that they can live life to its fullest potential. Only then will it be enough.

The current message isn't working. Scaring people for a disease when they don't feel that great to begin with clearly isn't working. It's never worked, and we shouldn't assume that it will magically begin working either.

It's time to get serious about what learning outcomes we deem as most important so that we can help to develop more active citizens, and in turn, more empowered and positive citizens who are less anxious, stressed, and depressed.

So, what ought we consider?

  • Ask youth to journal a multi-day commitment to physical activity at moderate or vigorous intensities and healthy eating. Have them reflect on how they feel mentally, emotionally, and about themselves in general. 
  • If you are a teacher, question learning outcomes formed at the district levels when on curriculum committees. Specifically, is this outcome something that students should know and understand or is what you were taught and so you assume it should be included? 
  • Don't ask youth to memorize facts about physical fitness. Rather, insist they bring their A game and ask them to apply health information that is relevant to them and how it makes them feel, and invite them to demonstrate learning in creative ways. 
  • Hold a parents night and encourage everyone to join forces and stop the conversations around calorie counting, rewarding with junk food, etc. and shift it to conversations about how to set goals related to physical activity. Challenge families to set aside time so people can reflect on a daily basis throughout the journey.

Of course we want to ward off early onset of preventable diseases! I am suggesting this is indeed a worthy pursuit, I just think it's more attainable if we ponder a shift in our messaging strategies.

What do you think? 


  • Bill Walters

    I know you cannot come back to StFX and teach aspiring physical educators, so I will share this post with them and it is just in time as they head to the job fair in Halifax.

    • awe…thanks, Bill! Wishing them the best at the job fair! I know you have them well prepared!

  • Timothy Scandale

    Great article! I really like your suggestions and they make me think about the skill-theme approach. I feel inspired and focused after I exercise.

    Everyone enjoys movement and I have never met a student who does not like to move. I have only met students who think they don’t like to be active. But as soon as it is meaningful- they are instantly engaged. Your right, it is about potential and the power of “not yet”. At my school we are studying growth mindset and creating a strength-based culture. It’s powerful stuff for students and adults.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for the extra motivation!

    • Tim, thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts – as always. I know that I would be thrilled if you were to teach my kids. You define exceptional in terms of leadership and teaching expertise!!

    • Amanda Stanec

      Tim, thank you for taking the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts – as always. I know that I would be thrilled if you were to teach my kids. You define exceptional in terms of leadership and teaching expertise!!

  • Cody Wiggs

    Great read Amanda! I share your frustration at what is considered the new “normal,” the lack of understanding at how powerful the mind-body connection truly is, and the latent potential we can all tap into with a few simple lifestyle shifts. The tendency towards ineffective “quick fixes” and pharmacological interventions is frightening – especially when physical exercise and deep breathing provide far more effective interventions (or prevent disease in the first place!). In my own life, I am acutely aware of how my productivity, energy, and emotional well being are linked to my physical activity and diet. Each small change I have made towards being more active and eating healthier has paid off ten fold in my overall health and happiness. Keep up the good work!

    • Amanda Stanec

      Dear Cody – no clue why I am only noticing your comment now. Thanks so much for posting. I admire the work you do in the area of mind-body connection and know you are helping many teachers and students. I hope you’ll keep up the great work, too! :)

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  • Spy Garden

    Enjoying reading through your blog!!! We seem to share many similar passions; I have similar goals (just in the realm of healthcare instead of education;). I’m big on encouraging patients to exercise and have led many groups of patients through simple yoga/other exercises/activities. It is sad that so many practitioners overlook the opportunity to tell patients to get outside, get moving (and show them how!). Like you, I hope to change all that a little bit at a time!!