A policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "The Crucial Role of Recess in Schools," said safe and properly supervised recess offers children cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits.
"Recess should be used as a complement to physical education classes, not a substitute, and whether it's spent indoors or outdoors, recess should provide free, unstructured play or activity," the statement said.
"Yet recent surveys and studies indicated a trend toward reducing recess to accommodate additional time for academic subjects in addition to its withdrawal for punitive or behavioral reasons."
The AAP recommended recess should never be withheld as a punishment, because it serves as a fundamental component of development and social interaction that students may not receive in a more complex school environment.
Study authors concluded that minimizing or eliminating recess could negatively affect academic achievement, as growing evidence links recess to improved physical health, social skills and cognitive development.
The statement was published online and is scheduled to be published in the January issue of Pediatrics.