Rich or poor, schools fall short on providing physical activity

Jan. 17, 2014, Medical Xpress

By Milly Dawson

Schools in wealthier areas are more likely to have a physical education (PE) teacher on staff than are schools in poorer areas, but students in both wealthy and less affluent areas are coming up short with regard to physical activity, finds a new study in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

“Children receive many important benefits from physical activity, benefits that aren’t limited to health,” said author Jordan Carlson, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego. Carlson said that beyond strengthening children’s bodies, physical activity improves concentration, classroom behavior, and achievement.

The researchers used data on 172 students at 97 elementary schools in San Diego and Seattle. Socioeconomic status (SES) of the schools was classified as low, medium, or high based on the percentages of children receiving free meals. Children in the study wore devices that measured minutes of physical activity during school hours. Continue reading

How cutting physical education in schools could hurt grades

Sept. 11, 2013, TIME

By Alexandra Sifferlin

While gym class may seem like an extraneous part of an academic program, getting aerobic exercise can help students to learn and remember more.

A small study of 48 students between the ages 9 and 10 showed that those with higher levels of physical fitness performed better on mental tests. The researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had the kids memorize names and locations on a map of a made-up region. Students in the top 30 percent of their age group for aerobic fitness were better able to learn and recall the fictitious names and locations than those in the lowest 30 percent for aerobic fitness. This difference was even more pronounced when the kids were tested in the most challenging way — after studying alone, compared to being tested periodically while they studied, which is considered an easier way to retain information. Continue reading

Kids have fun getting fit

July 28, 2013, The Buffalo News

By Amy Moritz

Jillian Huber watched as her son, Jeffrey, ran down the inflatable track and sprinted over to the bounce house. The 2½-year-old was filled with toddler energy and he was using every morsel of it. Some days, when Huber is mentally debating whether to get up and go to the gym for her workout, Jeffrey is pestering her with the question: “Are we going to the gym today?”

Yes, her son has become one of the key motivators in Huber’s workout routine. She joined Fitness 360 in North Buffalo, N.Y., and when the facility opened up its kids’ only Jungle Gym, it became perfect for the Hubers. She could introduce her son and her 7-year-old daughter Anna to a healthy, active lifestyle while she worked on her own pieces of a healthy, active lifestyle. Continue reading