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Physical inactivity is a key determinant of health across the lifespan. A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression and others diseases. Emerging literature has suggested that in terms of mortality, the global population health burden of physical inactivity approaches that of cigarette smoking. The prevalence and substantial disease risk associated with physical inactivity has been described as a pandemic.

The prevalence, health impact, and evidence of changeability all have resulted in calls for action to increase physical activity across the lifespan. In response to the need to find ways to make physical activity a health priority for youth, the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Physical Activity and Physical Education in the School Environment was formed. Its purpose was to review the current status of physical activity and physical education in the school environment, including before, during, and after school, and examine the influences of physical activity and physical education on the short and long term physical, cognitive and brain, and psychosocial health and development of children and adolescents.

Educating the Student Body makes recommendations about approaches for strengthening and improving programs and policies for physical activity and physical education in the school environment. This report lays out a set of guiding principles to guide its work on these tasks. These included: recognizing the benefits of instilling life-long physical activity habits in children; the value of using systems thinking in improving physical activity and physical education in the school environment; the recognition of current disparities in opportunities and the need to achieve equity in physical activity and physical education; the importance of considering all types of school environments; the need to take into consideration the diversity of students as recommendations are developed.

This report will be of interest to local and national policymakers, school officials, teachers, and the education community, researchers, professional organizations, and parents interested in physical activity, physical education, and health for school-aged children and adolescents.

RESOURCES AT A GLANCE

Video(s):

Educating the Student Body
IOM Roundtable on Obesity Solutions

Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine. 2013. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18314.

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Publication Info

502 pages | 6 x 9 | 

ISBNs: 
  • Paperback:  978-0-309-28313-7
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-28316-8
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/18314

Links

Audio

Podcast:  Educating the Student Body

Given the implications for the overall health, development, and academic success of children, schools should play a primary role in ensuring that all students have opportunities to engage in at least 60 minutes per day of vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Recent estimates suggest that only about half of school-age children meet this evidence-based guideline for promoting better health and development. The report recommends that most daily physical activity occur during regular school hours in physical education classes, recess or breaks, and classroom exercises, with additional opportunities available through active commutes to and from school, before- and after-school programs, and participation in intramural or varsity sports.

Videos

Educating the Student Body

IOM Roundtable on Obesity Solutions

The video centers on the idea of “cross-sector work.” When considering the challenge of obesity in the U.S., this idea is of particular importance. There are many conflicting theories of what causes obesity, and many ideas of what solutions will work to solve it. There’s a lot of debate about what’s working, and if obesity rates are declining, increasing, or remaining stable. However, from communities where steady drops in obesity rates have been seen, cross-sector approaches to prevention have played a major role.

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