We all want healthy kids, but many kids 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, meaning that today, kids exercise less. Kids’ health risks are increased by a lack of physical activity, which can also jeopardize their well-being throughout their lives. Physical activity is also critical to kids’ cognitive development and academic success.
The school environment is key in encouraging and providing opportunities for kids 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 kids to become more active—ultimately improving kids’ health.
Schools historically have been central in supporting the well-being of kids 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 prioritize kids’ fitness. The recommendations in this report provide approaches for strengthening and improving programs and policies for physical activity and physical education in the school environment, including before, during, and after school.
An interactive website provides creative ideas for kids’ exercises and how kids can play 60 minutes before, during, and after school. The website shows how, even with busy schedules, kids can be active during recess, classroom activity, physical education, intra- and extra-mural sports, after-school programs, and by walking or biking to and from school. How will kids get 60 minutes of activity at your school?