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Kids Exercising: A Weekly Hour of Gym Class Doesn’t Cut It

kids exercisingI about choked on my potatoes when I read that the average gym time for kids is 60 minutes a week. Not a day, a week. (And yes, dietitians eat potatoes- roasted, not fried.)

I could rant about that little tidbit for hours, but instead I’ll focus on just one little part: that increasing kids PE time can increase their strength without upping the likelihood of broken bones. That’s extra time in gym class, not hours spent at the gym, soccer practice, or running sprints on the track. Just normal kid stuff. A study in Sweden just looked at what happens if kids’ PE time was raised to 200 minutes per week instead of 60 minutes. That may sound like a big jump, but that’s only 40 minutes per school day, and 60 minutes to start with is just pathetic. The recommended minimum daily activity for school-aged kids exercising is 60 minutes.

The outcome of the study? Over two years, kids improved their muscle strength. In addition, much to their emergency-room-bill-paying parents, the number of broken bones didn’t go up with the extra activity minutes. There are so many factors that go into determining a school curriculum  but this study could add to the ammunition that exercise is important for kids. It may cost money to run a phys ed program, but so does paying for the diseases that come with childhood obesity. Not to mention that active kids get better grades.

We never used to have to think of kids needing exercise, they just got it by default. Running outside, playing catch, and swinging on the monkey bars used to be the norm. Now it’s video games, computers, and tv. That means we need to fight to get kids moving and gym class is a great place to start. Exercise for kids not only helps with weight, strength, and bone density, it also improves self-esteem and decreases the risks for health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

So until we can win the fight for more time in gym class, you might want to reconsider the screen time and kick your kids out of the house to play after school.

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