When I was a kid, my older brothers and I were told to go outside and play until we were called for dinner or the sun went down.
Many children and adolescents now live in a world where playing outside at home is not an option for a variety of reasons. Today, only one in three children meets the minimum recommendation for daily physical activity. That means in a classroom of 30 students, only 10 are active every day in recess, physical education, sports, before or after school programs, or at home.
Aside from their homes, children and adolescents spend most of their time at school. Physical activity at school is one prevention strategy that will not only benefit students’ physical and mental health, but also lead to higher test scores, increased concentration and attention, improved attendance and fewer disciplinary problems.
According to the newly released report, DESIGNED TO MOVE: A Physical Activity Action Agenda, “As children move into adolescence, their preferences and motivations – for physical activity, or anything else – hardwire.” Parents and community supporters can impact this hardwiring by helping schools integrate physical activity into every classroom in all grades. We can also actively support physical education and before and after school programs to teach students the benefits of being active every day.
While there are challenges, there is a wealth of support and resources available to schools for little or no cost. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program helps schools create environments that promote nutritious eating and physical activity. We support schools by providing professional development, networking, science-based resources, and success stories from schools across the country. Every school can do something and many Kansas City metro schools in the Healthy Schools Program have been successful in getting their students up and moving.
- Elementary schools in the Independence School District added physical activity “bursts” during the school day using ABC for Fitness.
- In the Olathe School District, schools offer running clubs and physical activity breaks to get students moving in classrooms.
- Schools in Kansas City, Kansas Public School District implemented a walking school bus to encourage students and parents to walk or bike to school.
To learn how you and your school can get active and join the movement, visit www.healthiergeneration.org.
If you support physical activity for children during the school day, make sure you vote for Safe walk/bike to school in Health Madness. Voting in the Sweet Sixteen is open until 1 p.m., Monday, April 1.