HOUSTON (May 23, 2013) A new report from the Institute of Medicine says schools should be responsible for helping pupils engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate intensity activity during each school day.
No more than half of American youth meet current evidence-based guidelines of at least an hour of vigorous or moderate intensity physical activity daily, according to the report, which was released today.
"Because children are in school for nearly half of their waking hours, the committee recommends a Whole-of-School approach to strengthening physical activity in schools," said Harold W. Kohl III, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). "The approach would target physical education, active commuting, before and after-school activities, sports and other opportunities to help children meet the 60 minutes per day of vigorous or moderate intensity physical activity."
Kohl chaired the committee that wrote the report.
The "Whole-of-School" approach would encourage activities such as walking or riding a bike to school while discouraging inactivity. Recess, lunch breaks and frequent classroom breaks should be included and not taken away as punishment, according to the report.
Although many state laws require some physical education, the report urges the U.S. Department of Education to include physical education as a core subject. The report says that quality physical education can potentially influence body mass index (BMI) and other important health outcomes in youth.
"Physical activity is so central to children's health, development and learning that schools should naturally be involved with physical activity for students," Kohl said. "Research shows that physical activity helps children think faster, improves their cognitive performance and helps them reach
|Contact: Stephanie Logue|
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston