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exercise

Kid hanging upside down at playground
Virginia State Parks / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The benefits and necessity of school recess have been widely debated over the past decade. But growing research shows recess helps improve academic achievement, prevents bullying, and develops emotional and communication skills.

For example, a 2009 study of more than 10,000 American kids found improved behavior when they got at least one recess period of 15 minutes or longer.

But how should effective recess be structured? How long should it be? What should children do during that time? There seems to be little guidance on what makes "good" recess.

Tamar Charney

I crossed and uncrossed my legs for the tenth time in a minute. I bounced my foot. I even stood at the back of the room. I was fidgety, foggy brained, completely fatigued, and there were still hours to go until we were finished.

After 40-some odd trips around the sun, I should know I can't skip my morning workout and still expect to function well in a daylong meeting.

As the meeting droned on, and my fidgeting got worse and worse, my thoughts snapped back to a conversation I had with a school-aged boy I know.

Who decides which child health concerns matter most?

Aug 21, 2012
insipidlife / flickr

Doctors and public health professionals certainly have a lot to say about children's health, and parent's do too. But how do these concerns translate into policies or programs tasked with doing something to make kids healthier? Well-that's more of a free for all.

Every year, the University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital does a survey on childhood health concerns. They ask adults, both parents and non-parents alike, to state their health concerns for the children in their community. This year, lack of exercise was number one on the list of top-ten child health concerns.  Obesity and smoking rounded out the top three health concerns for kids.

But do these adults really know what the concerns for kids are? Certainly, there are a lot of kids who are not exercising regularly? About 50% of kids in Michigan do not exercise regularly, according to Kids Count, making it partly responsible for the rise in obesity (which stands around 30% for kids in the state). A lack of healthy food or even just eating school lunches are also partly to blame for obesity.