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In Brief: Making Activity a Core Subject

3 Kids PlayingPhysical activity should be a mandated core subject and students should spend 30 or 45 minutes per day in gym class, depending upon their grade, says a new report released last week by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The IOM report on physical activity in schools includes recommendations and policies and programs to implement them. Extensive evidence demonstrates that regular activity provides multiple physical, mental, and cognitive health benefits for youth, the report states. 

The report concludes that a “whole-of-school” approach is needed, with participation from teachers and principals to students and parents. One recommendation is that elementary school students spend an average of 30 minutes per day in physical education class, and middle and high school students an average of 45 minutes per day.

Students should engage in vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the school day, the report recommends. In class, teachers could prepare lessons that require students to stand and move around the room. Students could move during recess and both before and after school. Schools can and should play a major role in helping make children and teens more active, the report concludes.

For the full report: Institute of Medicine. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. May 23, 2013.

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