Kids Need an Hour of Exercise a Day
CDC-Backed Panel Issues New Recommendation for Kids to Stay Healthy
WebMD News Archive
PE Under Siege
All the experts contacted by WebMD agreed that the lack of opportunity for
exercise during the school day is a big part of the problem. With the
increasing emphasis on raising test scores, physical education classes are
disappearing from the nation's middle and high schools and many elementary
schools have done away with recess.
"Especially at the elementary level, kids need to get out and run
around," panel co-chairman Robert M. Malina, PhD, tells WebMD. "It is
abnormal for a youngster to sit all day with no opportunity to use up all that
The panel presented evidence that physical activity actually helps children
perform better academically. Strong acknowledges that the data are not
conclusive, but he says it is clear that regular physical activity doesn't hurt
The CDC recommends daily physical education from kindergarten through 12th
grade. But few schools comply, citing budget restrictions and increasing
academic demands which eat up the school day.
"It may be that we need to extend the school day or include physical
activity in after-school programs," Strong says.
And while schools are critical, all agree that parents are, too. The best
way to encourage exercise in children is to set a good example, they say.
"The evidence is very clear that if parents are active their children
will be more likely to be active, too," Malina says.