For the Parents & Educators
The new PAG Mid-Course Report highlights five key settings for youth to be physically active. Below is a breakdown of the report and my interpretation of some inclusive ways to apply these findings.
The school setting is an ideal place to incorporate physical activity for youth. The typical school day lasts between six and seven hours, providing ample time for youth to be active in a variety of ways. Some examples are through more traditional methods such as physical education (PE) class and recess, as well as present-day methods such as active transportation, sports clubs, before and after school activity programs, and activity breaks during the school day. The key suggestions from this setting are that interventions must focus on quality or enhanced PE. Quality PE means increased time being active, proper training of teachers, and activity that meets a moderate to vigorous intensity level. For kids with disabilities, it is important that their individualized education program (IEP) includes PE and that educators provide inclusive activities. Here are a few resources on inclusive PE and active transportation programs for kids with disabilities.
- Inclusive Physical Education
- Webinar on Inclusive Safe Routes to School
- Involving Students with Disabilities in Safe Routes to School programs
Research is now suggesting that there is a positive association between physical activity and academic achievement. Not only will being active improve your child’s health status, but it also might improve their academic experience. A win-win for everyone!
The Let’s Move campaign, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, is dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and has recently released a new component called Let’s Move Active Schools. This is a comprehensive program that utilizes school “champions” such as PE teachers, parents, or community leaders to create active environments where all students can get moving. Anyone can be a champion and I encourage you to sign your kid’s school up or get involved at http://www.letsmoveschools.org/.
Preschool and Childcare Centers
It is imperative that children start being physical active early in life in order to develop lifelong health habits! The key findings from this setting are that active play involving larger playgrounds, outdoor spaces, and trained staff are productive approaches to get kids active early on. Encourage the use of inclusive play spaces with these resources: Restoring Play to All Children and Inclusive Play for ALL Children: The Opportunities are Boundless!
Community and Built Environment
The community setting showed enormous potential in the PAG Mid-Course Report for increasing physical activity at the population level, thus establishing ways for all youth to be more active. The main features of the built environment, which support physical activity, are parks and recreation facilities, transportation systems, and sidewalks, amongst other urban planning design features. Redesigning these structures to incorporate physical activity would allow for increased walkability/wheelability, active transportation, and avoidance of socioeconomic factors related to inactivity. Check out Complete Streets for a design and policy approach with all users in mind.
Family and Home
The home is a logical setting for encouraging physical activity in youth given that children often develop behaviors, values, and attitudes from their family members during childhood. The home setting also provides a structured environment for parents to enable children to be physically active. The key message here is that parents and family members play an important role in youth physical activity which is even more so if you are active with your kids! For ideas on how to build an Active Family visit the Let’s Move Active Families page and Family-Oriented Sports and Home Activities article.
The health care setting is a promising environment to encourage physical activity among youth. Physician check-ups are focused on prevention services and can also allow health care providers to check-in on physical activity levels. A large number of youth can be reached in a primary care setting; thus, health care providers should be encouraging and “prescribing” physical activity. Next time you are at the doctor’s office with your children, try discussing their physical activity levels with your health care provider.
The conclusion of this Mid-Course Report review is that individuals from each of these settings need to be working together to encourage physical activity opportunities for all youth. Childhood obesity is a winnable battle! Encourage your kids to get in their 60 minutes or more every day!