Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is important for promoting lifelong health and well-being and preventing various health conditions. The 2008 US Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years should have 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day. Unfortunately, many children and adolescents do not meet the recommendations set forth in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans[PDF-8.35MB] .
The benefits of physical activity extend to the classroom, as well. Students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviors (e.g., on-task behavior and ability to follow directions). Higher levels of physical activity and physical fitness are also associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., concentration, memory) among students. As part of our Healthy Communities Network grant, FCHS, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Gloucester County, has been working with local schools to increase what we call active learning.
Using the SPARKa,b,c’s classroom and recess activity program, we’re helping teachers incorporate movement and activity into classroom lessons. They’re not taking a break from learning to move around. They’re using movement as part of their lesson – so kids are active learners! Thanks to the NJ Healthy Communities Network, we’re helping teachers and administrators to make environmental, systems, and policy changes in their schools. They’re adding specific physical activity requirements to their wellness policy, training educators to use active learning, and making physical activity a wellness priority. It has been an exciting initiative, and we’re pleased to have been a part of this change.