Why To Exercise Today: For School Kids, Sharper Minds, Ready-To-Learn Bodies

JW Designs/flickr

JW Designs/flickr

Did we really need the lofty body of experts at the Institute of Medicine to tell us this? Could we not have polled any parent of a school-age child, who know so well that an intense round of freeze tag or a vigorous spin on the monkey bars before sitting at a desk makes focusing the brain so, so, so much more manageable?

In any case, here, the government experts chime in. The latest recommendations from the IOM: Kids should have at least 60 minutes a day of vigorous, moderate intensity physical activity — half of which should get done during school hours. To which I say: Amen.

Here are the bullet point recommendations from the report:

•School districts should provide high-quality curricular physical education during which the students should spend at least half of the class-time engaged in vigorous or
moderate-intensity physical activity.
•All elementary school students should spend an average of 30 minutes per day and all middle and high school students an average of 45 minutes per
day in physical education class. (To allow for flexibility in curriculum scheduling, this recommendation is equivalent to 150 minutes per week for elementary school students and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students.)
•Students should engage in additional vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the school day through recess, dedicated classroom physical activity time, and other opportunities.
•Additional opportunities for physical activity before and after school hours, including but not limited to active transport, before- and after-school programming, and intramural and extramural sports, should be made accessible to all students.

The idea that school kids must be physically active in order to be mentally primed for learning is, of course, is the latest focus of First lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Active Schools campaign, and the driving philosophy behind nonprofits like Playworks, which sends “play” coaches to schools in low-income schools around the country to support organized physical activity during recess.

Personally, I’ve started pushing my kids out the door after dinner for a short bike ride or race to the park before winding down into the bedtime routine. (It’s good for me too, as I tend to fall into a heap of exhaustion at the end of the day.) Readers, are your kids getting 60 minutes of exercise a day? What’s your strategy?

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