The country’s slow march to national progress will get the needed jolt when its citizens are active and healthy, which can be addressed by a mandatory national fitness/exercise and sports awareness program.

It is a well-known fact that countries whose citizens have healthy, active lifestyles are fit, more competitive and productive. Hence, the need to make Filipinos more involved and interested in sports, fitness and exercise.

A healthy citizenry and sports inclined citizenry, aside from being more productive, will help save billions of pesos in health care costs, with the savings being poured into other undertakings likewise crucial to nation building.

An inclination to sports, which can lead to international sporting excellence like what Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao achieved, is also an ingredient in nation building by giving the people a winning mindset anchored on fair-play, sportsmanship and making them more confident and competitive.

With more and more people, especially the youth getting hooked on technological gadgets and entertainment that promote a sedentary lifestyle, it is crucial that the youth are introduced to sports and fitness early on.

In addition, a national fitness program to be carried out in schools, the work place and communities is also being eyed to cover not just students but employees, senior citizens and all sectors of society, with the benefits of the program leading to billions of pesos saved in terms of healthcare and hospitalization costs.

It has been noted that lifestyle-related illnesses strike more and younger people due to recent trends promoting a more sedentary lifestyle where sports activities are now confined to TV screens and game consoles and where spending endless hours in front of the TV or computer is considered an accepted norm.

Likewise, in many schools, Physical Education (P.E.) classes are reduced to playing parlor games or cheerleading and field demonstration activities, while many public schools have allocated only less than half an hour for P.E. classes.

There have been mounting proposals to correct this matter by raising the standards for P.E. teachers and P.E. classes to a level where students will be taught the basic rules and right way of playing different sports that are best suitable in their localities or existing equipment and facilities.

Schools with sports equipment and facilities must maximize such and advantage and introduce students to various sports / fitness regimen, and not just the usual basketball, volleyball and football programs.

Schools without adequate facilities and equipment can focus on disciplines such as middle and long distance running, weightlifting, boxing or even chess.