PLT4M hosted an essay contest for students across the country. Check out the full prompt here.

We asked students: In less than 750 words, you have to convince ‘Sedentary Industries’ that physical education is important to you. Why does physical activity and fitness matter to you?

We received hundreds of submissions and have selected a winner!

Congrats to Aidan Nadell from Upper Dublin High School in Pennsylvania for winning the competition! 

Aidan's Essay

Dear Sedentary Industries:

My name is Aidan Nadell, and I am writing this letter to explain why physical education classes are here to stay. Take it from someone who cares about physical activity: who sees fitness as the very means of vitality. Because I choose to engage in a lifestyle of fitness day in and day out, I have gained confidence in my body image, fostered a meaningful relationship with my father, relieved anxiety during the school day, and forged the routines and processes that will allow me to operate in shape beyond secondary education.

Firstly, I have struggled in the past with my body image, bordering on the line of a full-fledged eating disorder. Through the guidance offered by my physical education teachers who have supported me from kindergarten on, I have been able to reform my relationship with eating and exercise. I now understand that instead of exercising because I eat, I eat because I exercise. Using these resources, I have crafted a meal plan that ensures I eat enough calories every day and supports my physical activities in running, biking, and weight training. Without the PE Department, I likely would be residing in an in-patient facility, unable to attend school and curving down the slight edge of disappointment.

Moreover, exercise has been the vehicle in which I have developed a significant relationship with my dad. To contextualize, for the past six and a half years, my dad has worked in Thirty Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. This is easily a two hour commute from our home in Dresher, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, to his office on the forty-sixth floor. His days start at 5:00 AM and he often doesn’t get home until past 7:00 PM, and I have to make a concerted effort to connect with my busy old man. This bridge between worlds was built upon running, a shared interest discovered in middle school. Neither of us had run a 5k before this revelation, and his desire to get in shape combined with my desire to connect to Dad concocted a recipe for success. I entered the five kilometers in confidence, no thanks to the mile training from PE class. We finished in less than twenty-four minutes, and we like to say that the rest is history. Now, my dad and I run for local causes in our community every other week, and we have shaved our times down to where we are consistently placing on the podium in every race.

Furthermore, the exercise in my physical education classes has elicited meditative effects for my anxiety. As a student with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), school sometimes becomes difficult to bear. When I take tests, I hear the anxiety. When I raise my hand in class, I hear the anxiety. It is when I am in my uniform, moving in my physical education class that the anxiety is silenced and overtaken by the enjoyment of escape. When I lace up for class, there is no lamentation: only appreciation and concentration. For it is what I learn in these classes that I am able to apply to my life and choices outside of school. I engage in the dynamic stretching I learned in class religiously on my runs, rides, and other exercise routines.

Tomorrow is my seventeenth birthday, and my parents are gifting me with a gym membership to our local Life Time Athletic. I could not think of a better way to implement the intentions of the Introduction to Weight Training class I take this year than to apply it in the mornings before school, getting gains before I get my grades. I have confidence from my previous exercise endeavors that I will be able to succeed with these up and coming routines as a pupil of the Upper Dublin School District Physical Education Department.

On my sixteenth birthday, I made a commitment to myself to develop my core through a ten-minute daily ab circuit (a commitment, mind you, that I have now fulfilled). The seedling that was planted and watered through every one of my physical education classes has blossomed into a well-established oak tree, with habits like roots engrained deep into the foundation of my life. Without this seedling, I would not have my tree. I would not have my eating-exercise balance, my partnership with my pop, or my maintenance over my anxiety. Physical education is here to stay in our school systems, as far as I am concerned.

My regards,

Aidan Nadell