Poll Shows Parents Want Kids More Active at School

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A new survey conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health shows that "almost all parents of young children believe it's important for elementary school kids to get exercise during each school day" and want more physical activity for their children.

The poll, which found that one-third of participants feel their children are not getting enough physical activity, included a few interesting specifics: 26 percent of participants think that playground equipment is lacking at their kids' schools and 22 percent of parents surveyed feel that recess is too short.

 The study also found that parents with weight issues of their own were more likely to think schools need to do more to increase activity.

Our school systems face tremendous pressure to boost test scores and make ends meet on very tight budgets. With these pressures, we often see physical activity take a back seat despite its importance to health and wellness. Now, parents are starting to take notice. Sarah Clark, Associate Director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School, said:

School officials should note the strong support from parents for the importance of physical activity during the school day for children in the elementary grades. Parents see many reasons why physical activity is valuable for their children -- not just in preventing obesity but also in promoting healthy physical development.

The survey asked parents of children aged 6 to 11 for their opinions on physical activity.

Here at HSC, we work with parents through the Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables coalition to advocate for recess at a local level and support schools in finding practical ways to make recess a reality. (For example, more than 50 parents recently completed training to serve as volunteer recess monitors.) Through our Fit to Learn professional development program, teachers learn strategies to incorporate physical activity into classroom activities as a way to boost learning as well as health.

Check out the exercise & school recess section of HSC's blog for more stories on the benefits of physical activity at school -- and ideas for making sure all children have a chance to be active.