the American Heart Association (AHA) is calling for efforts to promote more physical education in schools. Alan Mozes reports:One solution to the obesity epidemic might be to hit it where it starts, childhood. According to HealthDay News
"Kids spend a lot of time in the schools for a lot of years, and in order for them to be as physically active as they need in order to be healthy, schools are going to have to take the initiative," said Russell Pate, chairman of the group that drafted the recommendations, and a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia.The AHA is putting significant pressure on schools to ensure children get enough exercise. HealthDay relays some of their reforms published in this week’s Circulation:
Fueling the concern, the AHA said, is the dramatically rising obesity rates among American children over the past two decades: About 16 percent of kids aged 6 to 19 are now considered overweight.
And a 2003 survey showed that more than one third of the students spend no more than 20 minutes a day on vigorous activity, while their time in front of the TV is up to three hours daily, the AHA added.
- Schools to establish a daily minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity during school hours, and set up health education programs that encourage exercise and discourage sedentary behavior;
- Schools to establish optional exercise programs outside school hours, provide extracurricular sports clubs, and promote safe walking and biking routes to school;
- States to ensure that physical education (PE) programs are taught by certified and highly qualified teachers, and to hold schools accountable for the adequacy of such programs and for ensuring they are part of a core curriculum;
- Child development centers and elementary schools to ensure at least 30 minutes of daily recess for exercise;
- Higher education groups to establish programs that produce highly qualified PE and health education teachers.