Not All Fun And Games: The Importance Of Student Exercise

Kids these days aren’t generally as healthy and active as we’d probably like them to be. Obesity is on the rise. Screen time is on the rise. Outdoor playtime and general physical activity? Those aren’t on the rise for kids. With things like food education taking a backseat to so many other things that our young students have on their plate, the least we can do is try to get our kids engaged in being active. Kids who are active as younger people tend to stay that way as they get older.

The recommended amount of physical activity for a kid is 60 minutes. If they’re spending the bulk of their time in school during the day, how can they get the proper amount of activity? The handy infographic below takes a look at different ways that students can get their recommended dose of exercise. Click on the link above to access the interactive infographic and learn more. As you scroll through the graphic, you’ll see a little pie chart fill up as you learn about the different ways to incorporate physical activity into the school day.


Making School More Active

1. Before School

Take active transportation to school. This can mean that students can walk, bike, take a scooter, or anything else that is you-powered!

A volunteer adult can lead groups of students to school in a walking school bus.  Similar to a traditional school bus, the group follows a set route and picks up students along the way.

Before school programs are a great way to get active in the morning for those who live too far away from school to actively commute. Intramural sports, music, art, and other extracurricular activities would be appropriate here.

2. Classroom Activity Time

Just 15 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity during frequent regular classroom breaks has been shown to decrease body mass index (BMI) in students over a period of 2 years.

Breaks can be taken during or in between lessons for teachers to lead students in movement in the classroom. A classroom can be set up in ways to maximize space for movement and physical activity.

3. Recess

Recess has been shown to have a positive impact not only on the development of students’ social skills but also on achievement and learning in the classroom.

Recess reduces stress, decreases restlessness, teaches conflict resolution and problem solving, and helps develop cognitive abilities. Keep kids moving for the entire recess period.

4. Physical Education Classes

Physical education classes not only have similar health and social benefits of recess, but also educate children on a healthy lifestyle.

Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, nearly half of school administrators (44%) reported cutting significant time from physical education and recess to increase time spent in reading and mathematics. But, children who are more active show greater attention and perform better on standardized tests.

PE time should include a variety of sports, activities, and forms of movement that are novel, appeal most to children, and are geographic.

5. After School Programs

After-school programs should provide opportunities for students to be physically active indoors or outdoors. Programs should include limited sitting and no screen time, and should be supervised by trained staff.

6. Intra and Extramural Sports

Intra and extramural sports provide additional school-based opportunities for organized physical activity. Schools need to offer sports that are not pay to play and are inclusive of all athletic abilities. In the past 40 years, involvement in sports has flourished, not only in the number of students engaged, but also in the range of sports being offered. By providing a wide range of sports to choose from, students with varying interests have the opportunity to participate. Playing sports may lead to the enjoyment of physical activities over the lifetime.


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