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U.S. School Kids Should Get Hour of Exercise Daily: Report
Date:5/23/2013

THURSDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- Schools should ensure that kids get at least one hour of physical activity each day to support their health and boost performance in school, according to a new report.

Although previous studies show 60 minutes of vigorous to moderate-intensity exercise daily promotes health and development, it's estimated that only about 50 percent of school-aged kids are currently meeting this recommendation, according to the report from the Institute of Medicine.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide advice to decision-makers and the public.

Schools "already provide key services such as health screenings, immunizations and nutritious meals," said Harold W. Kohl III, chair of the committee that wrote the report, in an IOM news release. "Daily physical activity is as important to children's health and development as these other health-related services, and providing opportunities for physical activity should be a priority for all schools, both through physical education and other options."

Kohl, also a professor of epidemiology and kinesiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and colleagues recommended that elementary students engage in 30 minutes of physical activity in gym class daily. High school and middle school students should have 45 minutes of physical education. At least half of these classes should consist of vigorous or moderate-intensity exercise, the IOM said.

In addition to gym class, children should get more exercise during recess, breaks and classroom exercises as well as in after-school sports, the report said. It advised against revoking recess privileges as a punishment for misbehavior at school.

Since the No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001, 44 percent of school officials have cut back on physical education to devote more time to reading and mathematics in
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