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How to make children more physically active at school

How to make children more physically active at school


A lot of pediatricians , educators, parents and other experts are concerned about the lack of physical activity that children do at school. Increasingly, students are not being given enough opportunities to exercise and exercise during school.

In fact, worrying statistics show that students are too sedentary at school and at home, a trend that contributes to serious health problems.

What to know

According to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, only a third of American children are physically active every day. In addition, children have an average of seven and a half hours in front of the screens a day.

These developments add to the serious consequences for children’s health. For example, since 1970, the rate of childhood obesity has more than doubled. .

Alarmingly, obesity rates among children between the ages of six and 11 have quadrupled since 1970. ..

What the research says

As outdoor sports and games are sacrificed in favor of screen time, schools and homework are increasingly putting children in front of computers. This double misfortune reduces the time it takes for children to be physically active.

Physical activity helps the body and mind

Not surprisingly, research shows clear links between the additional use of electronic devices with depression, behavioral problems and weight gain . However, despite the clear need for students to move, only a handful of states require physical education in all classes.

School days are often so busy with academics that physical fitness – and even lifting from the desk – can hinder you. However, although a lot of exercise is known to be healthy for children, less than 11% of schools require teachers to include physical activity breaks in their students’ curricula.

In addition, shaking has been shown to help children learn.

In fact, research indicates that physical activity is as important for academic performance, retention and concentration as it is for physical health and obesity prevention. .

Expert consensus

An international group of experts at the 2016 Copenhagen Consensus Conference analyzed and created evidence-based recommendations on children and physical activity. The following conclusions were reached: .

  • Be physically active before, during and after school improves academic performance.
  • Mastery of physical abilities develops intellectual capacity.
  • Participation in physical activity has an immediate positive impact on children’s brains and school performance.
  • Physical fitness is good for children’s brain development, brain function and intellect.

Importantly, this group also emphasized that «the time taken by the lessons in favor of physical activity does not come at the cost of obtaining good grades».

Gymnastics and recreation class

In many schools, recreation periods have been shortened or even eliminated, and gymnastics classes have been reduced. Instead, students are expected to sit back and focus on their academic tasks all day, every day.

Physical activity while learning at a distance

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many students will take distance learning courses in the 2020-2021 school year, which probably means that many students will be in front of screens during school and that recreation and physical education will not exist.

However, some smart school districts (and teachers) will have educators who incorporate active brain breaks into their lessons and / or will have gymnastics teachers to organize virtual physical education sessions. And while these kids may miss climbing into the playground and cycling to school, there are plenty of opportunities for home students to work on physical activity.

For example, distance education students save time going to and from school in cars and buses; Time that I can use instead for sports activities, such as jumping a soccer ball, walking the dog around the block or a mini-dance party beforehand. between or after your virtual lessons.

Parents can encourage their children to take brain breaks, such as doing a few sets of burpee, kneeling or jumping as needed, as well as facilitating opportunities for other active activities between their children’s lessons.

Less time to move

Although many schools offer less exercise for children, there are many physical activity options during the school day, including gymnastics classes.

Unfortunately, few students attend gymnastics classes regularly; and even fewer receive PE every day. Budget cuts, shortening of school days and the emphasis on academics are some of the reasons behind the requirements of truncated physical education. The same goes for recreation.

While most students have some type of recreation, it is often added to lunch. Also, some children cannot go out and physical activity is not always necessary, which means that some students do not have the opportunity to travel too much.

The depressions can also be quite short, sometimes only 15 minutes. However, ask any child and they will probably say that the recession is what they like most at school.

Why the recession is important

In addition to being fun, recreation offers children an opportunity to add valuable physical activity to their day, maybe even half of your daily steps in a period of 15 to 20 minutes.

Research shows that taking a break during the day, even a short one, can improve students’ learning skills and memory. In addition, the free play that takes place during the break strengthens children’s social skills.

School recreation can even help improve children’s behavior, making it counterproductive when the teachers take it out . For example, a study of more than 10,000 third-graders found that children who had at least one break per day (lasting 15 minutes or more) had better behavior in the classroom. class than those who had less time. .

In fact, right American Academy of Pediatrics , there is a strong correlation between recreation and more attentive and productive behavior in the classroom. This is true even if students spend most of their recreated time socializing. This is true for both teenagers and younger children.

In class

Physical activity can take place directly in the classroom, along with academic study. Increasingly, researchers are discovering that incorporating physical movement into learning can help strengthen concepts in students’ brains. In one study, math and spelling lessons that included physical movement were more effective. .

Students can, for example, jump eight times, when eight is the answer to a math problem. Benefits include children who have moderate to intense physical activity for about 60% of the time during the lesson.

In addition, they retain information better and spend more time in tasks than children who learn these concepts in the old fashioned way, such as without movement.

Another way for children to move and learn at the same time is to set up classrooms with standing desks. There is growing research to support the claim that these offices provide much-needed physical activity. .

Teachers can too promotes better learning and behavior with quick breaks in the brain (three to five minutes). These mini-activities – such as jumping, jumping on one leg or some dance moves – give children a little mental reset without taking much time from other tasks. However, they continue to contribute to children’s need for frequent physical activity and add to the total accumulated daily exercise.

Before and after school

Don’t forget about physical activity opportunities on the way to and from school. Go to school (or cycling, skateboarding or skateboarding) offers children all the benefits of other types of daily physical activity.

Playing on the playground after school can serve as an extra break. Participate in school activities such as a football team or an athletics club is another great way to work on exercises.

Some schools, especially in areas where it is difficult for children to go to school, offer preschool fitness programs to try to replicate some of the benefits of walking and simply to add physical activity to students’ school experience.

If your child’s school has one, take advantage, even if it means an early morning for everyone. Deserve.

If your child’s school does not offer these types of fitness programs, ask them to do it or start on their own.

What parents can do

There are many ways in which parents can ensure that their children do enough physical activity, including urging teachers and school administrators to prioritize movement. For example, if your child’s recession is particularly short, ask for it to be extended and / or another holiday period added to the schedule. Tell the principal that you appreciate physical education and opportunities for mental breaks in the classroom.

If you feel that your school is not doing enough to promote physical activity, talk to other parents, teachers, and school staff and ask them to join the cause. In addition, you can contact the school board, local school district officials, and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to share your concerns and gain additional support.

Also complete any exercises your child does at school with extracurricular activities, such as organized sports and time for active games. Walking or cycling to school or going on a family outing can also provide more fitness opportunities. By adding regular physical activity during your child’s extracurricular program, you can ensure that your child has enough exercise during the day.

A word from Verywell

Research shows that physical activity at school is just as vital to children’s physical health as it is to their academic success. It is also clear that the vast majority of students do not do the necessary exercise.

This is especially harmful for children who do not do much physical activity outside of school, those with attention problems and children who are overweight.

As a parent, you can push your child’s school to add more time for physical education, recreation, and movement in the classroom. Also, try to incorporate more physical activity into your child’s day, such as family outings, after-dinner dance parties, and getting your child to participate in sports after school. Find activities that your child enjoys, and physical activity will soon become a cherished daily habit.

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