The Daily Mile: “So Simple, It’s Brilliant”

Runner’s World, not a place I normally go for news, published an article that I read today called “So Simple It’s Brilliant: Schools Worldwide Buy Into ‘The Daily Mile'”. I posted the article on our News page, but also wanted to highlight it here, based on two quotes from the article.

  1. “The idea was to improve fitness and social and emotional health, and to combat obesity. … Fifteen minutes, outside, every day. No gym clothes, no fancy facility, no competition, no rigid schedule, no additional staff, no cost.”
  2. “While in the early stages, scientific studies show Daily Milers have improved sleeping and eating patterns, improved physical fitness and scores in math and working memory, and reported being happier in school.”

These reported effects, combined with the simplicity of the program, support adoption in more schools around the world. We can start one classroom at a time! The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…literally.

The Global Matrix 2.0: 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

The Global Matrix 2.0 is a report card that grades physical activity comparatively across 38 countries. Tremblay and colleagues (2016) provide an introduction to the matrix, including its history, in this short article. This introduction opens a supplemental issue of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health that provides readers with summary papers from all 38 countries who participated in the survey in a format that enables comparisons. The United States abstract can be found on our Research page, in the second section, but all of the articles can be accessed here.

One possible take-away from these data are that, globally, we have room for improvement in achieving recommended levels of physical activity. While classroom physical activity was not a specific component assessed in the matrix, there is evidence to support classroom physical activity as a viable method of increasing movement in children, which we know has multiple benefits. The matrix does address the need for support for physical activity and, as educators, we are in a unique position to support our students to live active, healthy lives.

New Canadian 24-hr Integrated Guidelines!

We are all likely familiar with the nutrition guidelines and the physical activity guidelines for both youth and adults. Recently, however, Canada has created new guidelines that integrate physical activity, sleep, and sedentary behavior. The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (aged 5-17) addresses four Ss: sweat, step, sleep, sit. These new guidelines provide a more holistic recommendation for overall health.

“For optimal health benefits, children and youth (aged 5–17 years) should achieve high levels of physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour, and sufficient sleep each day. A healthy 24 hours includes:

  • Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;
  • An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least 3 days per week;
  • Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activities;
  • No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time;
  • Limited sitting for extended periods.” – the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)

For more information about the guidelines:
Integrating physical activity, sleep and sedentary behaviour — a world first! Sept. 1, 2016 (Link to article)
24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (Link to guidelines)

Technology and Child Development

As teachers, we must prepare our students to be successful on the job market and technology is an important component. But the access that children today have to technology, and the high levels of screen time, may be detrimental to both motor and social skill development while increasing unhealthy sedentary time. Utilizing technology in a healthy, educational manner in the classroom is critical, as is understanding both the pros and cons of technology use. Read more here in an article on the Impact of Technology on Children’s Development with quotes from Dr. Gabbard and Dr. Liew of Texas A&M University.

New Data on Childhood Obesity Prevalence Trends

An article published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that prevalence of obesity in American youth aged 2 to 19 is over 22%. There has been a general increase in childhood obesity over the past 30 years, with differing levels of change based upon age group. Current levels suggest that continued interventions are needed to address weight among children. Furthermore, programs that target prevention of unhealthy weight gain and promotion of health and physical activity are critical.

Link to JAMA article.

Let’s Be Like Tennessee

As of July 2, 2016, Tennessee law mandates that students in grades K-1 get 225 minutes of physical activity per week while in school and that students in grade 2-6 get 160 minutes of weekly activity. This is an increase from the previous 90 minutes of required physical activity per week, a mark that will continue in grade 7-12. The Tennessee Department of Education acknowledges it will be difficult to ‘find’ time for physical activity during the school day, but recognizes that the benefit to cognition, behavior, and academic performance has the potential to outweigh any barriers.

The research supports Tennessee’s decision. So let’s all be like Tennessee…and get kids moving!

See more about Tennessee’s policy on our “In the News” page.

An Old Article, Newly Discovered

An article by the Association for Childhood Education International entitled “Childhood Obesity and Testing: What Teachers Can Do” was shared on the site in 2009. This piece, now 7 years old, offers a relatively concise overview of the relationship between obesity and academic performance for an educator who is seeking information. Citations throughout the article provide support for the five strategies proposed to address the issue at school. Although it doesn’t fit into the other sections of this website as it is not technically research, or news, or a resource, it is worthy of its own blog post…happy reading!

View the article here.

UNICEF Kid Power…Promoting Activity and Charity

The UNICEF Kid Power Band is a partnership between UNICEF, Star Wars, and Target, and offers kids the chance to “unlock” food for malnourished children through activity. The idea combines the need for physical activity engagement among children in developed countries and the need for food for children in developing countries. One might hope that funds to feed malnourished children would be provided regardless of corresponding activity levels if the funds are available, but this concept does provide motivation to individuals with the band…and teaches children about giving to others. For more information, see the UNICEF Kid Power site. There is also a 44 second video to promote the program and to encourage kids to get active!


More Recess…for ALL Students!

Recently, several schools across the country have increased the quantity of recess that early elementary students receive (see our In the News page). Preliminary qualitative results suggest that extended or additional recess breaks facilitate an improvement in students’ focus in the class. This is consistent with empirical research that supports a connection between physical activity and time on task in the classroom. However, this research would further support offering more recess minutes to students of all grade levels. One can hypothesize that schools are hesitant to adopt this practice in standardized testing grades, but studies show that adding physical activity time is not detrimental to academic performance. As such, teachers and administrators are encouraged to consider how to increase physical activity and recess time across elementary school. Let’s get kids moving!

Update: Video link about the increased recess program (Jan. 18, 2016)

Standing Desks at the White House

The White House has requested $700,000 in funds for standing desks, prompting a social media debate about the cost-benefit analysis of standing desks. This article offers several of the benefits of standing instead of sitting at work, including links to relevant evidence, while this article includes both support and public backlash for the idea. Perhaps purposefully, in three articles including this one, there are accompanying photos of President Obama standing behind the seated desk in the Oval Office.

Considering the “no press is bad press” cliche, this White House proposal is furthering the discussion on the detrimental health impact of a sedentary lifestyle and promoting activity. Let’s take a stand!

obama on the phone in the oval office