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Positive Effect of Daily Exercise in School Children

A study published in the European Society of Cardiology (2009, May 10) reports improvements in body weight and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease in children as young as 11 years old, according to ScienceDaily. The one year study is ongoing at the University of Leipzig in Germany, where local schools have compared an experimental group with a miniumum of 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise as part of daily physical education classes to the control group which continued twice weekly standard physcial education classes. Obesity, one of the factors measured, decreased by 4% in the experimental group but increased by 2% in the control group. The study is longitudinal in nature, and will continue to collect data over the coming years. For more details regarding the benefits of daily exercise in school visit the ScienceDaily article here.


Daily Recess Linked to Better Classroom Behavior

Schoolchildren who have a daily recess break behave better and are likely to learn more, according to a large study of more than 10,000 third-graders.  Researchers studying U.S. girls and boys, 8 to 9 years old, found that a break of 15 minutes or longer was associated with better classroom behavior (as rated by teachers).  But many kids now have less free time and engage in fewer physical activites at school because, in response to the "No Child Left Behind Act" of 2001, many school districts cut allotted recess time in order to focus on reading and math.  The researchers concluded that 'recess may play an important role in the learning, social development, and health of children in elementary school.'  They encourage parents to learn about physical activity and recess programs when selecting a school for their child.
But what do you do when your school does not offer recess time?
Join 4th grade teacher Donna Lake at Frost Elementary in Jackson, MI.  She along with her colleagues provide a recess break with Mileage Club®.  The kids love getting outside and the teachers love the simplicity of Mileage Club® .  But most importantly the students are more prepared to learn. 
"School Recess and Group Classroom Behavior," Pediatrics, Feb. 2009
"Daily Recess Linked to Better Classroom Behavior," (2009).  Retrieved February 9, 2009, from

Physical Education and Adolescent Girls
Historically, schools have provided physical education opportunities for children of all ages. Since the late 1960's there has been a reduction in the physical education opportunities and requirements. During that same time (late 1960s to present) there has been a dramatic jump in overweight children and children at risk for being overweight. Some Public Health experts have speculated that some of the increase in obesity may be due to this erosion of physical education programs.

A group of researchers from the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina and the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina recently studied the impact of school physical education on the overall physical activity in middle school and high school girls. Their findings support that Public Health position. They found that the girls who were enrolled in physical education were more physically active than non enrolled girls in grades 8, 9 and 12. These findings suggest to these researchers that increased enrollment in physical education may help to increase American girls¡¯ physical activity level. (Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78: 265-270, 2007)


Public Parks and Physical Activity
Public Health officials suggest that public parks can play a major role in helping people be physically active. A study conducted in Los Angeles investigated this hypothesis. Eight LA public parks were part of the evaluation. The parks were located in areas with large minority populations and high poverty levels. The researchers interviewed and observed individuals who lived within two miles of the park. Here are their findings:

1. One to seven percent of the people who lived within one mile of the park used it.
2. Nine percent of the activity observations were organized sports.
3. Thirteen percent of the people who used the park lived more than one mile from the park.
4. More males than females were seen at the park.
5. Most of the park activities were sedentary.
6. For those who were active, the most commonly used activities were walking and vigorous activity in open fields, volleyball courts, basketball courts, tennis courts and playgrounds.

So parks are helping provide opportunities for physical activity. More emphasis, however, must be placed on telling members of the communities about the opportunities parks provide for increased physical activity, making sure facilities adapt as recreational activities change and improving park safety. (American Journal of Public Health, 97:509-514, 2007)
American Heart Association Releases
Recommendations for Physical Activity in Schools

Posted 11/21/2006 Linda Brookes, MSc

"The CDC has reported that between 1991 and 2003 the percentage of high school students enrolled in daily physical education decreased from [about] 42% to 28%."
Although most of the schools in the United States already have programs that provide students with some physical activity, population trends for obesity suggest that American children and youth need more physical activity than their current levels, which are far below the usual recommendations of  60 minutes per day.[1] Because schools are uniquely positioned to address this critical public health concern, the American Heart Association (AHA) is calling for schools to expand their role in providing physical activity to children and adolescents. To this end, the AHA has issued a set of school policies and practices that include "key changes" in school policy and practice. If implemented nationally, the AHA says that they "would move America's schools into an appropriate position of leadership in providing our nation's children and youth with the physical activity they need for lifelong health."
The AHA's recommendations are included in a scientific statement, "Promoting Physical Activity in Children and Youth: A Leadership Role for Schools," published in Circulation.[2] "Children and youth spend a substantial number of their waking hours in school, so it's important that schools provide adequate physical activity," said Russell R. Pate, PhD, professor of exercise science and chair of the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and chair of the AHA writing group.
Most states require that students receive minimal amounts of physical education (PE), and daily PE is recommended by many government and national organizations, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which monitors physical activity throughout the nation. The CDC has reported that between 1991 and 2003, the percentage of high school students enrolled in daily PE decreased from 41.6% to 28.4%.[3] According to a 2000 study,[4] only

  • 8% of elementary schools,
  • 6.4% of middle/junior high schools, and
  • 5.8% of senior high schools
provided PE daily or allocated the recommended amount of time per week (150 minutes for elementary and 225 minutes for junior and senior high schools). Direct observations of PE classes in elementary and secondary schools showed that students engaged in moderate-to-vigorous activity for < 40% of the time, which is significantly less than the 50% usually recommended. In addition, < 50% of students not directly involved in school sports teams currently participate in after-school physical activities.