Kids are built to move! Growing bodies are pushing their boundaries as they learn both how to move and how to build lifetime habits of being active.
Unfortunately, many kids are deprived of the opportunity for recess and physical education as schools focus on standardized testing emphasizing academic subjects. The most frustrating part of this is that kids who move more do better on those tests!1,2
Kids In Pursuit of Play
Regular physical activity is key to the growth and overall success of children as they grow into maturity. Current recommendations for children under 18 years of age:
- Kids need at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity and including at least three days of vigorous physical activity.
- Include muscle strengthening activities such as climbing trees, using playground equipment, etc. on at least three days of the week.
- Also, bone strengthening activities like running or jumping rope should be done at least three days of the week as well.3
That’s a lot of activity for a child who is essentially confined to a desk for most of the day.
It comes as no surprise that teachers commonly complain about behavioral disturbances when research clearly shows that even one period of recess time of at least 15 minutes has significant positive improvement on classroom behavior.4
Recess Matters Because Children Matter
If we really care about children and their ability to succeed in today’s world, we need to prepare them for success by building strong habits early on.
If we really want to see school test scores improve, we need to provide opportunities for growing minds to succeed with built-in physical activity.
Kids are meant to move; let’s show how much we care by giving them that chance.
Dr. Brett McIff
Dr. McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University. Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science. He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The association between school-based physical activity, including physical education, and academic performance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.
- Physical activity and sedentary time in relation to academic achievement in children. Haapala, Eero A. et al. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 20, Issue 6, 583 – 589.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans. 2008. http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines.
- 4. School recess and group classroom behavior. Barros RM, Silver EJ, Stein RE. Pediatrics. 2009 Feb; 123(2):431-6. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2825.