Friday, May 31, 2013

Report Calls For More PE, Activity For US Schoolchildren

A report from the Institute of Medicine calling for more in-school physical educationprograms and out-of-school activity for US schoolchildren received major coverage today.

USA Today (5/24, Hellmich) reports, “Students should be doing at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity at school, with more than half of the activity occurring during regular educational hours and the remaining amount before and after school, says a report released Thursday by the Institute of Medicine.” According to USA Today, “estimates suggest that only about half of US kids meet the government’s physical-activity guideline of doing at least 60 minutes of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity every day, the report says.”

The Los Angeles Times (5/24, MacVean) reports, “The institute’s report, ‘Educating the Student Body,’ calls on the US Department of Education to designate physical education as a core academic subject.” Currently, “there are no consistent nationwide policies about gym time, and the report recommends that 30 minutes a day in elementary school and 45 minutes in upper grades be devoted to physical education. Other time, such as recess, should be provided for physical activity as well, the report said.”

Bryan Toporek writes at the Education Week (5/24, Toporek) “Schooled in Sports” blog that the report’s “recommended ‘whole-of-school’ approach would require ‘all of a school’s components and resources [to] operate in a coordinated and dynamic manner’ to give students the chance to engage in at least 60 minutes of daily MVPA.”

The AP (5/24, Kerr) reports, “Another concern, the report says, is that 44 percent of school administrators report slashing big chunks of time from physical education, arts and recess since the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2001 in order to boost classroom time for reading and math.” Now, “with childhood obesity on the rise – about 17 percent of children ages 2 through 19 are obese – and kids spending much of the day in the classroom, the chairman of the committee that wrote the report said schools are the best place to help shape up the nation’s children.”

On its website, NBC News (5/24, Fox) points out that “the committee said children not only need the exercise for their health – they need it so they can learn better.” Reuters (5/24, Heavey), MedPage Today (5/24, Pittman), HealthDay (5/24, Dallas), EdSource Today (5/24, Adams), and FOX News (5/23) also cover this story.

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