-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Schools should ensure that
kids get at least one hour of physical activity each day to support
their health and boost performance in school, according to a new
Although previous studies show 60 minutes of vigorous to
moderate-intensity exercise daily promotes health and development,
it's estimated that only about 50 percent of school-aged kids are
currently meeting this recommendation, according to the report from
the Institute of Medicine.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit
organization that works outside of government to provide advice to
decision-makers and the public.
Schools "already provide key services such as health screenings,
immunizations and nutritious meals," said Harold W. Kohl III, chair
of the committee that wrote the report, in an IOM news release.
"Daily physical activity is as important to children's health and
development as these other health-related services, and providing
opportunities for physical activity should be a priority for all
schools, both through physical education and other options."
Kohl, also a professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at the
University of Texas School of Public Health, and colleagues
recommended that elementary students engage in 30 minutes of
physical activity in gym class daily. High school and middle school
students should have 45 minutes of physical education. At least
half of these classes should consist of vigorous or
moderate-intensity exercise, the IOM said.
In addition to gym class, children should get more exercise
during recess, breaks and classroom exercises as well as in
after-school sports, the report said. It advised against revoking
recess privileges as a punishment for misbehavior at school.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, 44
percent of school officials have cut back on physical education to
devote more time to reading and mathematics in the classroom,
according to the report.
However, research suggests that regular physical activity may
actually improve academic performance, the IOM noted. For instance,
aerobic fitness is linked to working memory and problem solving.
Recess offers children the opportunity to develop social skills and
use their imaginations. Benefits of physical activity during the
school day are greater than the benefits of exclusive use of
classroom time for academics, the authors concluded.
Across the country, state laws on physical education in schools
are inconsistent, according to the report. The IOM advised the U.S.
Department of Education to make physical education a core academic
subject to enhance content, instruction and accountability. In
addition, education administrators must all play a role in ensuring
access to physical activity and physical education, the report
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
physical activity and children.
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