Schools need to add more physical fitness

A recent report shows that just one-third of California's fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders meet physical fitness standards. These results are the product of the state's physical fitness test, known as the Fitnessgram. The report also shows that nearly one-third of students are overweight and at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The American Heart Association defended keeping the Fitnessgram for this very reason: to identify at-risk student populations and tell their parents.

The 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA, released in November by the National Association for Sport & Physical Education and the American Heart Association, found that while 75 percent of states mandate physical education, most fail to allot a specific amount of time, and nearly half allow exemptions, waivers or substitutions. Sadly, California is one of those states.

We recommend that schools provide 30 minutes a day of P.E. for elementary school children, and 45 minutes a day for middle and high school students. Currently, no state follows these recommended guidelines.

As a father of three, my hope is to reverse the trend of childhood obesity in California by urging schools to improve P.E. programs and provide parents with a tool kit to improve their children's health.

Dr. Matthew DeVane

President East Bay board of directors American Heart Association Alamo

Vietnam vets had a lot of difficulty returning

In regard to a recent letter about Vietnam veterans:

I can only speak for myself. I don't know where the letter writer was in the '60s, but I was serving my country. At that time, we were advised to wear civilian clothes to avoid controversy while on liberty.

When my four-year enlistment was up and I returned home, there were no banners or welcome-home signs at the dock, and no one at the airport thanking me for my service.

I attended my high school reunion with old friends. When they discovered I had been to Vietnam, I was asked more than once how it felt to be a baby killer.

It took the VA 37 years before it offered me the benefits I now have. If the writer wants to know about veterans, I suggest he spend time at a veterans hospital waiting room.

R.J. Newman

San Leandro

Still lots of good people out there

Even with all the terrible things that happen in the world, I know there are good folks.

Recently, I lost my driver's license and all of my medical cards. I tried to find them, even using a flashlight to look under cars, without success.

Then very late that night, I received a telephone call from Walgreens at 51st and Telegraph, that someone had found the collections of cards and left them with the store manager.

The employees of Walgreens protected the card until I was able to collect them. All total strangers.

Clearly some of the wonderful folks in this world are right here in Oakland. Thank you all very much.

Connie Hosemann

Oakland

Nation must stop the gun insanity

It's been rough trying to find quiet time to talk with our 7-year-old about the Connecticut shooting.

We wanted him to know the facts, so he is prepared. How can anyone be prepared for what follows such unthinkable acts of violence against such innocent victims?

Run-of-the-mill gun violence in urban streets kills more people than mass murder. But psychologically the impact feels greater. We must stop the insanity of both. But why do we start the conversation about gun control by limiting the ban to assault weapons or multibullet magazines? Is the gun lobby really so strong that reformers must bargain against themselves?

As to mental illness, there are medications, understandings and therapies, and many more options now than ever before. Remove the stigma so that mental and physical health are on par for care, access, support and funding. Let's not try to find blame, but rather find the solutions.

If anything good can come out of the tragedy in Connecticut, it can be national reforms in our laws for guns and for mental health.

Evelyn J. Herrera

Oakland