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Don't Cut School Recess, Pediatricians Say
Date:12/31/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Since the advent of the federal government's No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, some schools have been cutting or eliminating recess to spend more time teaching academics.

Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging schools not to cut recess, which the organization says is a much-needed break and helps children develop a healthy lifestyle.

"Recognizing the need for schools -- on ever-more-stretched budgets and time constraints -- to foster academic achievement amid new calls to support physical activity/obesity prevention, our study suggests that recess promotes a healthy learning environment and can help schools in meeting both demands," said lead researcher Catherine Ramstetter, a member of the Academy's committee on home and school health.

"Importantly, recess should be used as a complement to physical education classes, not a substitute," added Ramstetter, a health educator at the Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Cincinnati.

Recess is a fundamental component of development and social interaction children ought to receive in school, she said. It "offers a unique opportunity for children to experience a break from the academic demands of school as well as a forum for creative expression, social engagement and physical exertion," Ramstetter said.

Co-researcher Dr. Robert Murray, a professor in the department of human nutrition at Ohio State University, added that "recess is a crucial part of a child's development. That's mental as well as social development."

In order to learn well, children need a period of concentrated academic activity followed by a break that allows them to process information, Murray said. That's also true for adults, he added.

"Studies have shown that children do a better job of processing information if they don't move from one challenging task to the next, but
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