Schools urged to provide 1 hour of daily physical activity to all pupils

Washington, May 24 (ANI): Schools should play a primary role to ensure that all students get opportunities to have at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity daily, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

The report recommends that most daily physical activity occur during regular school hours in physical education classes, recess or breaks, and classroom exercises, with additional opportunities available through active commutes to and from school, before- and after-school programs, and participation in intramural or varsity sports.

Harold W. Kohl III, professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said that schools are critical for the education and health of our children.

He said that they already provide key services like health screenings, immunizations, and nutritious meals and daily physical activity is as important to a kid's health and development as other health-related services, and providing opportunities for physical activity should be a priority for all schools, both through physical education and other options.

The report calls on the U.S. Department of Education to designate physical education as a core academic subject to draw attention and attract the resources necessary to enhance content, instruction, and accountability.

The committee recommends that half-an-hour everyday in elementary school and 45 minutes per day in middle and high schools be devoted to physical education, and students should spend at least half that time engaged in vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity.

But it emphasizes that physical education cannot be the sole source of physical activity; additional opportunities should exist throughout the school environment.

A variety of physical activities that include aerobic and resistance exercises, structured and unstructured activities, and both short and longer sessions will likely confer the greatest benefits, the report said.

Along with a minimum number of minutes spent in physical education classes, students should also receive frequent classroom breaks, and recess should not be taken away as punishment or replaced with additional academic instruction, the report adds.

The report illustrates how scheduling physical education and recess on a daily and weekly basis can still allow for ample classroom time devoted to core subjects. (ANI)

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