Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School

6/10/2013 12:00 AM

From the Institute of Medicine

Many children and adolescents in the United States have grown accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle. Currently, less than half of youth meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of daily vigorous to moderate-intensity physical activity. This increases youths’ health risks and can jeopardize their well-being throughout their lives. Physical activity is also critical to children’s cognitive development and academic success. The school environment is key in encouraging and providing opportunities for children and adolescents to be active. In this light, the IOM was asked to examine the status of physical activity and physical education efforts in schools, how physical activity and fitness affect health outcomes, and what can be done to help schools get students to become more active.

Schools historically have been central in supporting the well-being of youth by providing health screenings, immunizations, and nutrition programs and also by training them for lifelong learning. Schools can and should play a major role in efforts to make children and adolescents more active. This report provides approaches for strengthening and improving programs and policies for physical activity and physical education in the school environment, including before, during, and after school.

Download the full report here.