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America’s ‘Sit-and-Learn’ Education Gets A Failing Grade

America’s ‘Sit-and-Learn’ Education Gets A Failing Grade

“They (kids) perform better on academic tests following single bouts of exercise”

SILVER SPRING, MD – January 12, 2016 – Twenty-three minutes during the school day.  That is how much time that children are out from behind their desks and physically active during the school day, according to a new study published by Pediatrics. Have U.S. school administrations cut out so much physical activity from the school day that we have also shut down our children’s minds? When you look at the statistics and research by brain or learning experts, PHIT America concludes, YES!

In the actual study, 928 teens wore accelerometers and GPS devices to track their movement in school and at home during the average day.  In a New York Times article about the study, Dr. Jordan A. Carlson, one of the study’s authors, said, “They’re getting a lot less activity at school than we thought. We were surprised that they only spent about 4.8 percent of their time at school actually physically active.”

How did this limited activity time happen? Have we made kids so sedentary that we have made their minds go to sleep, too?

First, let’s look at the trends in schools. For the past 10-15 years, when U.S. school officials pushed for increased learning time and better grades, there was a huge parallel trend. Physical education, recess and other activity periods were eliminated by many schools.chart schools grades

“Educators, in an effort to increase academic time, have cut physical education and recess out of schools,” said Jim Baugh, Founder of the national charity, PHIT America.  “Forty-eight percent of all high schools in the U.S. have no physical education. The average school budget for physical education is at an embarrassing $764 per year. Even recess has been cut from the school day.”

Has this ‘Sit-and-learn’ education approach had a real impact on kids’ academic performance?

“I give this sedentary education approach to learning a big F,” said Baugh. “Look at the USA’s ranking versus other developed countries over the past 10 years. The U.S. has slipped from 18th to 27th out of 34 countries in math and has declined to 20th in the world in science. At the same time, activity time in schools has declined. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.  Sit-and-learn education is failing the U.S. and American kids.”

But is there any evidence the opposite is true? Do more active kids do better? YES!  More and more research is conclusively showing active and fit kids are smarter and do better in school.

Some of the leading experts studying physical activity and learning have strong opinions on this subject.

Jean Moize, Founder of Action Based Learning, states, “Exercise gives students an advantage to learn.”  
“They (kids) perform better on academic tests following single bouts of exercise,” states Charles Hillman, Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, who has been doing extensive research on this issue for years.

PHIT America has also accumulated more than 10 research projects that conclusively show physical activity improves academic results. This data can be accessed HERE.

So, are kids getting physical activity outside of school? Unfortunately no. In the research reported by Pediatrics, those same teens that are active 23 minutes during the school day are only active 39.4 minutes for the entire day. This is far short of recommended activity levels. There is other research by the Physical Activity Council that shows this trend is getting worse.  Two-thirds of kids in the U.S. are not active to healthy standards and this percentage keeps growing every year.

“This is a crime,” states Baugh. “We have shut down kids’ bodies and brains in school and they are sedentary outside of school. The ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ is a huge issue for our kids and country. We have to get children more active in school and outside of school if we want them to be successful. Our present system is handicapping our children. Educators must start to realize that active kids are not only healthier, they are smarter, too.”