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Students Need to Be More Active, Report Says

Rune Mathisen/Texas Tribune

Students should be getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. That exercise could happen before, during or after school.

The study also recommends the U.S. Department of Education declare physical education a core subject.

Bill Kohl, who led the committee that wrote the report, says physical activity improves learning in the classroom.

“Research shows that children who are more active have better attention and memory, better cognitive processing speed, and more likely to reach full academic potential than children who are less active,” Kohl said.

Ken Zarifis with Education Austin, the local teachers association, agrees. But he says with all of the other education requirements for teachers, increasing the required physical activity may be difficult to achieve. He says one way to find time would be to reduce the focus on standardized tests.

“We stop practice testing so much; we stop doing tutorials that are focused on being successful on the TAKS,” Zarifis said. “And unless we make that space, all of these studies won’t matter.”

The Texas Education Code requires students to participate in a little less than a half-hour of physical activity per day. About a third of school-age children in Texas are overweight. For adults, it’s closer to two-thirds, according to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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