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Revamping Recess for Kids' Fitness

School recess isn't just playtime; it's a golden
opportunity to boost children's fitness, according to a new report.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation today released a report that puts school
recess at the head of the class among opportunities to make students' school
days more active.

But the report doesn't back a free-for-all melee on the playground. Instead,
the Foundation says grown-ups need to get in the game, supervising fun recess
activities that involve all kids.

Why school recess? Because it's usually offered every day, whereas physical
education (PE) classes are only offered twice a week at some schools.

Many schools have cut back on time devoted to recess (and PE), but the new
report says kids perform better at school when they have a chance to burn off
energy through healthy physical activity.

The new recess report includes the results of a yearlong experiment in which
the Harvard Family Research Project revamped recess at a Boston elementary
school.

The Harvard team used a nonprofit program called Sports4Kids, which is
funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In the Sports4Kids program, trained adults foster fun, healthy activities
during recess at low-income schools. The grown-ups teach games to the kids and
help them learn to handle conflicts without fighting.

The Harvard experiment showed a "positive ripple effect" from the
Sports4Kids experiment, states the recess report.

For instance, the kids at the school became more cooperative and felt safer
on the playground during recess, were more likely to join in physical
activities during recess, and enjoyed being active.

Those benefits led to more productive classrooms, according to the
report.

"All work and no play isn't good for the health and well-being of
children," states the report. "If kids are fit, they are more likely to
be fit to learn."

(What do your kids do
for exercise ? Discuss it with others on WebMD's Parenting: Preschoolers and
Grade Schoolers message board.
)

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
B)2005-2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved

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