What’s been noticed already with the coronavirus pandemic is a big change with positive ramifications. That change has to do with the greatly increased number of people who’ve decided to turn off the TV to take walk, jog, shooting of baskets, the hitting of golf balls, the taking of a hike, or whatever inspires the embrace of physical exercise by personal choice. Thereby, increasing blood circulation, building muscle, filling lungs with fresh air, and a hundred-fold other benefits that can, with enough repetition and improved finesse, reduce excess fat and benefit the whole body to a more healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) or healthy amount of body fat.

History shows that many schools started the day with virtually everyone, including teachers, with a calisthenics routine. These exercises were seen as valuable to awaken students in preparation for the academics of each day. Why this form of stimulation ceased cannot be ascertained by this writer but strikes him as an effective means of preparing anyone, young and old, for meeting the moment of a new day and providing a level of readiness for whatever follows. Calisthenics can include stretching movements, running in place, yoga maneuvers, and anything else that limbers, loosens and livens the human body for all the physical and mental challenges of each day.

One condition of modern America for most of us, and these days even for all ages of youth, but mainly for those who’ve reached middle school age and thereafter, is that physical exercise for the most part is concentrated in those young men and women who, in school or by private means, join a team sport. These young people usually get a lot of exercise in preparation for team play. Those youth who are not out for a school sport or in a private club sports program do not get the physical activity they need. Even those opportunities have largely ceased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hence, with the pandemic a limiting factor in all of our lives and much of formal learning taking place by electronic connections, it would seem timely and appropriate that the human resources of our schools K-12, especially, now invested in distance education endeavors, could be organized into open area activities in the many empty sports fields around Salem and Keizer that would allow for calisthenics of large numbers while honoring the six-feet distance rule. Then we could assemble a lot of kids for physical activities and serve the social interaction needs of so many of these youth.

The Chromebook is a huge help but does not nearly serve the comprehensive, wide-ranging needs of our youth, regardless of age. It would seem high time to get more involved in their lives, now exclusively left to computer screens.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer. He shares his opinion frequently in the Keizertimes.)