Physical Aspect of Recess

My previous post dealt with the cognitive, social and emotional benefits of recess in children.  Here are a few more advantages of recess for both students and teachers.

Physical Benefits:

  • Children who are active during the day are more active after school, whereas children who are sedentary during the day tend to remain sedentary after school (couch potato syndrome.)
  • Studies have shown that unstructured play, specifically outdoor play, encourages physical activity in a unique way.
  • “With soaring obesity rates and increased interest in sedentary activities, a six-hour or longer school day is too long for children to go without breaks or opportunities for substantive physical activity.” -Dolly Lambdin, Ed.D., president of the National Association for Sport & Physical Education.

Classroom Management and Teacher Benefits:

  • Teachers rated children’s behavior as better in classes where children had at least 15 minutes of recess.
  • Teachers get to know the children better when supervising them on the playground.  This knowledge can be useful in developing curriculum and in preventing bullying.
  • Time on the playground is a change of pace for the teacher as well as for the children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents.  Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate than an estimated 17% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese.

Obesity may lead to the following health problems:

  • Heart disease, caused by:
    • high cholesterol and/or
    • high blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Social discrimination

Also, obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults. For example, one study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at aged 10–15 years were obese adults at age 25 years.  Another study found that 25% of obese adults were overweight as children.  The latter study also found that if overweight begins before 8 years of age, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.

Now don’t you see why physical activity during recess is essential?  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, help stop the growing trend of childhood obesity and make sure there is adequate time for outdoor physical activity in the school day.


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