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

CDC report shows progress in school health practices

Aug. 26, 2013, U.S. News & World Report

By Allie Bidwell

Over the last several years, more schools nationwide have begun implementing nutrition and health policies and requiring physical education programs, according to a report released Aug. 26 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC reported that more schools are cracking down on the types of companies that can advertise on school grounds and what types of food are available in vending machines. Since 2006, there has been a 13 percentage point decrease in the number of school districts that allow soft drink companies to advertise on campus, and a 13.6 percentage point increase in the number of districts that prohibit offering junk food in vending machines. Continue reading

Future of fitness: St. Paul school at forefront of measuring student health

May 2, 2013, St. Paul Pioneer Press

By Mila Koumpilova

Carolyn Will once got stomachaches as she braced for the annual Presidential Physical Fitness Test, the decades-old staple of gym class.

But her son, a fourth-grader at St. Thomas More Catholic School in St. Paul, looks forward to the test: He logs in sit-ups at home and coaches his cousin on proper sprinting form. Will credits veteran physical education teacher Gene Parrish’s knack for firing up students — free of judgment or drill sergeant tactics.

On Parrish’s watch, the school has gained a rare distinction: In seven of the past 10 years, it was the Minnesota school with the most students who score in the top 15 percent nationwide. But last year’s award was the school’s last. Continue reading

After years of recess erosion, schools try to get kids moving again

March 22, 2013, Yahoo! News

By Liz Goodwin

At 9:30 a.m. sharp on a Tuesday morning, all 1,200 elementary school students at PS 166 in Queens, N.Y. stood up and began doing jumping jacks in unison with a Beatles song blaring over the loudspeaker.

In Ms. Dianna Chappell’s third grade class, some kids began panting near the end of the required two minutes. One boy even stopped jumping momentarily, doubling over in exhaustion. “Oh come on! I’m much older than you!” Chappell yelled, as she continued jumping. Continue reading

Gym class isn’t just fun and games anymore

Gym class isn’t just fun and games anymore
Feb. 18, 2013, The New York Times

By Montoko Rich

On a recent afternoon, the third-graders in Sharon Patelsky’s class reviewed words like “acronym,” “clockwise,” and “descending,” as well as math concepts like greater than, less than, and place values.

During gym class.

Ms. Patelsky, the physical education teacher at Everglades Elementary School here, instructed the students to count by fours as they touched their elbows to their knees during a warm-up. They added up dots on pairs of dice before sprinting to round mats imprinted with mathematical symbols. And while in push-up position, they balanced on one arm and used the other (“Alternate!” Ms. Patelsky urged. “That’s one of your vocabulary words”) to stack oversize Lego blocks in columns labeled “ones,” “tens,” and “hundreds.” Continue reading

Study calls for daily P.E. classes

Jan. 28, 2013, EdNewsColorado.com

By Ann Schimke

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that instituting daily physical education classes for children would boost moderate to vigorous physical activity by 23 minutes a day, more than one-third of the 60 minutes recommended by federal guidelines.

The study, which was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, assessed a variety of policy changes, quantifying each based on the amount of physical activity it would add to a child’s day. Continue reading

School adds yoga to physical education curriculum

Dec. 18, 2012, The Bismarck Tribune

Public school yoga instructor Katie Campbell proudly looks out at 23 first-graders as they contain their squirming in a kid-friendly version of the lotus position.

In a voice barely above a whisper, she says into her microphone: “Why look at everyone showing me they’re ready for yoga. A-plus, plus, plus.”

Then the lesson begins with deep breathing and stretches common to many yoga classes. Continue reading

Most kids don’t get enough PE, says study

July 10, 2012, CNN

Most schools in the United States are not offering children the suggested amount of physical education, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Bryan McCullick, a kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia, examined all 50 of the United States and found six states where elementary schools followed recommended physical education guidelines. Two states followed the guidelines at the middle school level, and no states had strong enough regulations at the high school level. Continue reading