Obesity is a growing problem in most developed countries. While adults are getting bigger, a growing number of children are considered overweight or obese. This problem stems from a combination of poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity.
In the classroom, teachers help develop the minds of young children. However, school is also a suitable setting for physical development. In fact, it may be necessary for children to engage in physical activity at school.
Most Children Do Not Get Enough Physical Activity
Most children do not get the amount of physical activity recommended for their age. The typical recommendation is that children should engage in physical activity for 60 minutes each day.
What is considered physical activity? Almost any outdoor activity is considered physical activity, especially for younger children. Simply playing a game of pass the ball can provide toddlers with the physical activity needed to maintain healthy muscles and promote motor skills. Other outdoor activities include cycling, swimming, and any outdoor sport.
Primary school offers the perfect setting for this activity. Children receive time to play in the school field each day. Instead of sitting on picnic benches, children should be active during this outdoor period.
Provide 30 Minutes of Physical Activity at School
How much activity do children need in school? If children should get 60 minutes of physical activity each day, it makes sense that they should spend about 30 minutes engaging in physical activity at school each day.
Children spend at least half of their waking hours at school. Toddlers should get 11 to 14 hours of sleep, while children up to 5 years should get 10 to 13 hours. Even teenagers still need up to 10 hours of sleep each night.
Depending on the amount of sleep a child gets, they may only spend about 12 to 14 hours awake. They may not have enough time in the afternoon to get 60 minutes of physical activity.
Teachers and school staff should strive to provide 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day. It is then up to the parents to ensure that the children receive the remaining 30 minutes of activity after school.
Children are often full of energy. Some children may even find it difficult to concentrate when they are still energized. Providing 30 minutes of outdoor playtime may help these children focus on their studies and remain more engaged in their learning.
Choosing Physical Activities for School Children
Educators need to understand that not all children have the same interests. Teachers should offer students a variety of activities to encourage more physical activity.
Instead of playing the same game or sport each day, consider using a rotating selection of activities. You may even allow the children to vote for their favourite activities to ensure that every child has the chance to provide his or her input.
Benefits of Physical Activity for School Children
Why is it essential for children to receive enough physical activity? Playing physical games is useful for more than developing better fitness. Physical activity can also assist with mental development. By engaging in physical activities, children can develop their motor skills, cognitive skills, and communication skills.
Playing games outdoors also provides children with the chance to learn important new skills. It may also help to build their confidence and develop stronger social skills. When introduced at a young age, these skills will be a tremendous help throughout the rest of their schooling.
Physical activity also helps to improve coordination. Toddlers are not very coordinated. Spending more time running around and playing games can help them build stronger muscles, bones, and coordination.
Along with these benefits, physical activity promotes better health. Children that get enough exercise tend to sleep better, experience less anxiety, and maintain a normal weight for their age and height.
Physical Activity Promotes Stronger Brains
Using up physical energy also helps with concentration. Children are in a better state of mind for learning after spending a short period outdoors.
Physical activity also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Improving this blood circulation helps the brain create new cells, improving overall cognitive function. Children that get enough exercise may experience greater concentration, memory, and overall brain function.
Studies show that children who exercise regularly tend to perform better in school. They are better equipped to learn new skills and focus on their studies.
How to Include More Physical Activity in Your School?
If your school does not already offer a wide assortment of activities for children during recess, there are ways to include more options. The first step is to ensure that the school field and play areas are clean, maintained, and suitable for outdoor play. Keep the grass trimmed, get rid of weeds, and install proper fencing around the schoolyard.
Your school should also invest in suitable sports equipment. Ensuring that children have the equipment necessary to play various sports is essential for promoting physical activity. When you have more options available, a greater number of children are willing to participate in these outdoor games.
Schools also need to ensure that children have the time to play outdoors. Offering 15-minutes of outdoor play early in the day along with 15-minutes in the afternoon may not offer enough exercise. These 15-minutes likely include the process of taking the children outside and bringing them back to the classroom.
To meet the 30-minute recommendation, you may need to provide a couple 20-minute recesses during the school day.
Last Thoughts on Physical Activity in Schools
The bottom line is that most children do not receive the amount of physical activity recommended for their age. Children between 5 and 18 should spend at least 60 minutes playing a sport or engaging in the moderate physical activity.
Everything from chasing each other around the field to playing a sport can help children get the activity they need to reduce their risk of obesity and encourage healthier minds and bodies.
Create a plan to ensure that children have the chance to remain active for at least 30 minutes each school day. You should also consider offering a variety of activities during recess.
Continue to find ways to promote better health and encourage children to maintain an active lifestyle. If you would be interested to learn more about how we encourage outdoor activity in our curriculum please give us a call at 02-888-3337 or email us [email protected] to book your visit today.