Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2017

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom

By Dave Ramont

Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is not only important to kids when they're young, but in the long-term as well. Exercise at a young age can promote lifelong health and well-being, potentially preventing various health conditions down the road. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that children between the ages of 6 and 17 get at least one hour of physical activity every day. Unfortunately, some schools have been forced to reduce—or eliminate altogether—physical education programs due to budget cuts, leaving many kids without the opportunity to get enough physical activity or even learn how to exercise properly.

And now a new study examines the effects of daily in-classroom workouts on elementary school students. The independent study was performed by Dr. Leon Greene at the University of Kansas Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences, and was sponsored by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a leading health and fitness nonprofit. The goal was to determine if it would be a cost effective solution to introduce more physical activity into schools by using short exercise videos in classrooms.

Sixteen teachers and more than 400 students in second through fifth grades were involved in the study. Eight exercise videos were designed by researchers with the help of physical education teachers, which featured the appropriate language and skill level for each group. Teachers had students exercise with the ten-minute videos for one month, up to twice a day, with data showing that students reached a moderate level of exercise, the intensity of a brisk walk or slow jog. Students and teachers alike enjoyed the short exercise breaks, and results showed that students were more active and better behaved.

Cedric X. Bryant, ACE chief science officer, explained that it's important for children to develop a positive relationship with physical activity while they're young, making it easier to incorporate exercise into their lifestyles as adults. "These videos could be a powerful tool to both getting kids moving now and keeping them moving throughout their lives. They are low-cost and easy to administer, which means these videos could help shift the traditionally sedentary classrooms toward becoming more dynamic settings."

Bryant added that emerging research suggests a strong positive link exists between exercise and improved academic performance.

One hundred percent of participating teachers found that students enjoyed the videos, which were easy to incorporate into their lesson plans. They also reported that they could see themselves utilizing the videos, which were fun and engaging, in the future. Additionally, 15 out of 16 teachers felt that behavior in the classroom improved after each session.

Bryant pointed out that one in five children in the United States is obese. "Daily movement will help lead kids to better health and enhanced learning ability," he said. When kids grow up with the idea that movement is an integral aspect of all parts of life, we can start shifting the tide on the global epidemic of preventable inactivity-related diseases. That means a world of healthier and happier lives."

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