HealthCorps Gets Kids Moving – Here’s Why That’s Key
Most of the kids attending school today are not getting adequate (if any) physical education. Additionally, if they’re not part of a team sport in school or after school, or biking to and from school daily, or engaging in other physical activities, then they’re also not moving a whole lot. If they live in low income neighborhoods, it may not be safe to play outdoors. So these kids really get little if any movement. Hence the growing rates of childhood and teen obesity, which are tied to poor diet and the lack of exercise.
Sitting for long periods of time may not help to foster attention and focus. A new Dartmouth University study suggests that just twelve minutes of exercise can improve the attention span and reading comprehension of low income students. The recommendation is to get small unique “bouts of exercise” into the school day of teens, especially those who have less economic opportunities. In the study both the high income and low income kids showed selective visual attention improvement after these short exercise bouts, but the low income kids showed a bigger jump in attention. They also improved on tests of reading comprehension, while the higher income students did not.
The researchers postulate that exercise may help to reduce the stress that these students face daily, because of the impact that limited family income has on their daily lives. Exercise activities are an integral part of the HealthCorps and HCU (Health Corps University) curriculum. Movement during classes and throughout the school day is also emphasized with many of the coordinators offering stretching during classes and teaching yoga, Zumba and other classes.