Re-inventing recess may yield dividends

May 24, 2010 at 1:24 AM

COLUMBIA, Mo., May 24 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say introducing physical activity -- re-inventing recess, so to speak -- as part of elementary school class time will reap benefits.

Researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia suggest instead of scheduling breaks around academics, schools should incorporate into classroom time several 3-5 minute breaks -- both in and out of the classroom -- during which students jump, walk, climb stairs or do some other form of physical activity.

The "Active and Healthy Schools Program" includes having students and faculty wear pedometers to measure steps, activity zones with hula hoops and other play equipment and posting signs with healthy messages.

"The idea is to help schools demonstrate to kids the importance of physical activity and nutrition," Steve Ball, University of Missouri associate professor of exercise physiology, says in a statement. "The program encourages small changes that schools can build on to gradually create an environment that reflects health and fitness."

As the activity of children increased in research projects, there were added dividends such as a reduction in discipline problems, an increase in attention span, reduction in absences and a reduction in school nurse visits.

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