ACTIVE SCHOOL PLAYGROUNDS
kids are not all right. The 2014
Active Healthy Kids Annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and
Youth was released last week and our kids received a grade of “D minus”
in Overall Physical Activity and “F” in Sedentary Behaviors.
Of the 14 countries evaluated, only children in Scotland scored
lower. The Report states that;
84% of Canadian kids aged 3
– 4 are active enough to meet physical activity guidelines for their age
By the time children go to
school, however, this falls to only 7% of kids ages 5 – 11 meeting the 60
minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity per day physical activity
guideline, and only 4% meeting the guidelines at ages 12 – 17.
40% of kids (5 – 17
years) meet the guidelines at least 3 days per week; but to achieve health
benefits, these kids need to get 60 minutes every day of the week.
“We have engineered opportunities for spontaneous movement (such as
getting to places on foot and playing outdoors) out of our kids’ daily
lives, and have tried to compensate with organized activities such as dance
recitals, soccer leagues and PE classes.
Canadian parents look to structured activities and schools to get
their kids moving.”
well-developed policies, places, and organized programs are not enough to
make up for lost active time. We
need to step back and allow kids to play in a variety of different ways.
Simply allowing our students to go outside to play at recess and
lunch could raise physical activity levels by 200 minutes per week.
A recent study of 33
Ontario schools involved in a healthy living initiative (students exercise
every day, play extra sports, and are discouraged from eating junk food) saw
overall scores climb by 18 % over two years in reading, writing, and math.
This compares to a growth of 4 % for similar schools not in the health
program. Principals also said there were fewer fights and better
attendance. “Children don’t become brighter because they’re physically
active, but they are less tired, less agitated, less stressed, and less
sick. Physically active kids are in a better condition for learning.”
–Professor G. Fishburne, University of Alberta (Globe and Mail, Jan 2007)
To increase daily physical activity levels for all kids, we must encourage
the accumulation of physical activity throughout a child’s day, and
consider a mix of opportunities (e.g. sport, active play, active
transportation). “School boards and administrators should revisit outdoor
playground rules that inhibit physical activity and free play.”