New Report Highlights Positive Relationship Between Physical Activity & Academic Performance
Rep. Kind Calls for Greater Emphasis on PE in Schools with FIT Kids' Bill
A recent report by "Active Living Research," a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation outlines research linking greater physical activity to improved classroom performance and behavior. The report, "Active Education," indicates that when schools have chosen to replace time available for physical education (PE) with additional academic coursework due to budget concerns or pressure to improve test scores, actual academic performance by students has not improved. U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), lead author of the "Fitness Integrated with Teaching Kids (FIT Kids) Act," (H.R. 3257) pointed to the report as yet another indicator of the need to strengthen PE in America.
"It's simple: You can't have healthy minds without healthy bodies," said Rep. Kind. "This report outlines an abundance of research that shows why reducing or eliminating PE in schools is completely counter-intuitive. FIT Kids would strengthen physical education - moving schools toward a national goal for weekly physical activity, and engaging parents in the process. We will see the benefits in their math and reading test scores, get to the root of the obesity epidemic, and get kids on a healthy path early in life."
The report indicates that currently more than one-third of children and teens - about 25 million kids nationwide - are overweight or obese. Despite the alarming trend of childhood obesity, a mere 3.8 percent of elementary schools are providing daily PE. Similarly, only 36 percent of high school students are meeting the current recommended levels of physical activity.
Furthermore, the report cites research indicating that sacrificing PE time for additional classroom instruction does not improve academic performance. Instead, research shows that students who are more physically active tend to perform better in the classroom and on standardized tests. Breaks for physical activity, the report continues, can also improve classroom behavior and improve concentration skills.
FIT Kids would modify No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to strengthen physical education programs throughout the country. FIT Kids would measure schools on their progress toward meeting a national goal for required physical education recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of 150 minutes/week in elementary schools and 225 minutes/week in middle and high schools. The bill would also engage parents by requiring schools to report on students' physical activity.
In addition, FIT Kids would support professional development for faculty and staff to integrate physical education into everyday academic curriculum, and authorize a study and pilot program to support effective ways to combat childhood obesity.
"It is my hope that when Congress revisits No Child Left Behind this year, it will recognize what researchers already have, and put a new emphasis on physical education in our schools," Rep. Kind said. "We must do something to reverse the trends in childhood obesity and chronic illness in our kids before it's too late."
Read the report: Active Education: Physical Education, Physical Activity, and Academic Performance