New Villain in the Obesity Epidemic: Mean Gym Teachers

By Darlene Cavalier
Jan 9, 2010 1:45 AMJun 28, 2023 3:24 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

My high school physical education teacher had a nickname for everyone. (Mine was "Little One" because I was the runt of the class. Better than "Chicken Bones," as one scrawny boy was dubbed.) It didn't bother me, but according to research recently published in Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, I dodged a bullet--or maybe the dodgeball. Billy Strean, a professor at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, says "a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be determined by either a good or a bad experience, based on the personal characteristics of the coach or instructor. For example, negative experiences may come from a teacher who has low energy, is unfair and/or someone who embarrasses students." One person in Strean's study shared this: "I am a 51-year-old-woman whose childhood experiences with sports, particularly as handled in school, were so negative that even as I write this my hands are sweating and I feel on the verge of tears. I have never experienced the humiliation nor felt the antipathy toward any other aspect of life as I do toward sports." To help combat the obesity epidemic and give people a healthier attitude towards exercise, Strean suggests coaches and teachers emphasize fun and, until kids are in their teens, consider not keeping scores. Not sure how my high school classmate "Ace" would have felt about that.... Related Content: Discoblog: Musical, Fahrvergnügen-Inspired Staircase Makes Commuters Less Lazy 80beats: Despite Exercise, Zero-G Makes Astronauts as Wimpy as 80-Year-Olds 80beats: All Gain, No Pain: New Drugs Could Mimic the Effects of ExerciseImage: iStockphoto

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.