Encourage Physical Fitness & Outdoor Time

The average American child spends 44 hours per week (more than 6 hours a day) staring at an electronic screen. Research shows that children are spending half as much time outside as they did 20 years ago. Young people between the ages of 10 to 16 engage in vigorous activity, on average, for only 12.6 minutes per day — nowhere near the 60 minutes that the Surgeon General recommends. Obesity among children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years and the rate of clinically obese adolescents (aged 12-19) has more than tripled.

With even minor changes to a student’s daily routine, these statistics could be shifted into reverse. Even just one hour a day of moderate physical activity can have a significant positive impact on children’s physical, mental and emotional health. In addition to boosting physical health, activity and exposure to natural settings has been found to be effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children. Test scores have been shown to be better in schools that offer environment-based programs compared to schools without such programs and opportunities for free play support children’s emotional and social development. Learn about ways to incorporate physical activity and outdoor time into the school day below. (Also visit our National & State Green School Programs page to learn more about local and national Green School programs and resources to help you improve the health and sustainability of your school!)

Students hula-hooping

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