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10 Minute Breaks Mean Healthy Habits for Kids and Grown Ups

Group Exercise Doesn't Have to Feel Like This

I once heard an interview with the choreographer Twyla Tharp in which she said everyone, everyone, could manage at least an hour a day of daily exercise.  She works out for two hours a day, but she accepts that her life is different that way.

I think about Twyla Tharp saying that I absolutely have an hour a day to exercise all the time, when I’m not exercising.  So you can imagine my relief at reading that, according  Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of Health Studies at UCLA , all I need is 10 minutes.  She calls these breaks “Instant Recess,” and they work in the work place, and, studies show, at school.

Adults are more productive and happier when they gather as a group and walk or stretch or do something physical for ten minutes at regular intervals throughout the day. It’s more fun to exercise in a group, so why not make a group in the office? Healthy habits have a cascade effect. Once you start moving a little, you start doing it more. With recess sacrificed on the altar of No Child Left Behind, 10 minute breaks at school can be a boon for kids. They  translate into both better grades and healthier habits.

According to a story on Instant Recess in The New York Times, a study of 24 low income public schools by researchers at the University of Kansas found that kids who were given 10 minute exercise breaks, usually set to music, had better scores in composition, math and spelling.  The same students were more active outside of school and on the weekends than their peers in a control group. They also gained less weight.

My son goes to an inclusion school, meaning all the classes have kids who are typically developing and not-so typically developing. Throughout the day, the kids in his class have  breaks during which they can hop on a ball down the hall or do something physical.  Even on a small scale, the breaks help the kids refocus and recharge.

So heading into Thanksgiving and the holidays and new years resolutions, I’m going to take my cue from my son’s school and instant recess.  An hour a day may be a dream, but 10 minutes? That I can make a reality.

How about you? How do you fit exercise into your day? Would your kids like 10 minutes of Instant Recess?

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