“*** is considering cutting two or three physical education teaching positions and reducing the number of days it offers gym classes to high school students in an effort to manage costs.” A statement I heard on the news today, and many times before (many school names could start this sentence off).
There is the initiative, Let’s Move, by the First Lady, Michelle Obama (www.letsmove.gov) and the mission to provide healthy foods for kids at school, yet I am amazed at how many times I hear schools cutting out recess and gym because of budgets or because they feel the need to increase class time.
I am not an expert – but I know that before I ask my children to sit and focus for any length of time, I need to let them run around a bit. It almost always guarantees me that they will behave and pay attention. On road trips, I stop and let them run every few hours; otherwise I will have endless battles. I cannot imagine a classroom of 20 kids or so is any different. As far as health, no one can argue, a healthy lifestyle is not simply eating right, but also exercising. If we are pushing for health – it is of equal importance that we teach both eating right and exercising.
Now there are plenty of studies (by experts) that prove that exercise is not only healthy for you physically – but also mentally. An article in US News quotes John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning, even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”
They also go on to share, “high school students scored better on high-attention tasks after doing 10 minutes of a complicated fitness routine compared to 10 minutes of regular activity. (Those who hadn’t exercised at all scored the worst.)”
So how are we justifying cutting out physical activity in school??