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Sports Medicine Study: Recess Mandates Boost Physical Activity

Posted by floriza in Sports Medicine

In a sports medicine study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that where elementary school districts mandate the number of hours of recess required, students receive more time in physical activities.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and they found that elementary schools were more than twice as likely to provide 150 minutes of physical education on a weekly basis if the state or district required it. Otherwise, schools were unlikely to provide this much activity. The 150-minute mandate is based on the recommendation of the National Association of Sport and Physical Education.

During the 2007-2008 school year, the study found that fewer than 20 percent of children in the third grade received 150 minutes or more of physical education.

Few State or District Laws Mandate Physical Education

Surveys were given from 2006-2009 to 1,761 public elementary schools in 47 states, and the researchers evaluated data from these surveys. Only eight of the 47 states had a daily recess law, and 24 of the states did not have a state law that requires any kind of physical education in elementary schools. Less than 18 percent of the schools offered 150 minutes or more of physical education each week, but about 70 percent of the schools provided 20 minutes of recess per day.

Interestingly, state laws that suggest (but don’t require) 20 minutes of recess each day were generally followed, but such mandates were not followed if they were simply made by the district rather than the state. The schools that offered 150 minutes of physical education on a weekly basis were less likely to provide the 20-minute daily recess, however.

The National Association of Sport and Physical Education prepared a report in 2010 called “Shape of the Nation,” in which it was noted that 32 states allow students to forego physical education, substituting the credit for a different type of activity.

The researchers felt that encouraging states and districts to mandate the amount of recess provided to students would help to ensure that elementary school children receive a sufficient amount of exercise. Considering that child obesity is on the rise in the United States, these mandates could have a significant impact on the health of children in this age group. Studies have also shown that physical activity improves children’s academic performance.

Sports Medicine Promotes Fitness and Health

While sports medicine practitioners are primarily known for assisting adults and children with recovery from post-sports injuries, these professionals also create fitness plans for people of all ages in order to lose weight and maintain health. Sports medicine in New Jersey, New York, and other parts of the country is a way that parents can make sure their children develop healthy fitness habits at a young age, especially if their schools are not providing enough physical education on a daily or weekly basis.

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