Physical education has been the cornerstone of American schooling for decades. But a new experimental program appears to be paving the way for a new regime.
Some schools have adopted a before-school exercise program that allows kids to get active before classes start in the morning.
And the program is paying off.
According to a study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a 3 days/week before-school physical activity program resulted in improved BMI and prevented increases in child obesity.
The study examined Build Our Kids’ Success, an organization that helps organize before-school activities that improves health and social−emotional wellness.
Build Our Kids Success’, or BOKS, believe that a “sedentary life and poor eating habits can lower kids’ performance in the classroom and start a cycle of health problems later in life.”
Studies show that kids who exercise see significant boosts in intelligence-test scores and core subjects at school, compared to their inactive peers.
BOKS offers regular in-person training sessions held free of charge throughout Massachusetts and periodically in other key markets (D.C., New York, Rhode Island, Colorado) and encourages all new trainers to attend. If aspiring trainers are unable to attend in person, BOKS also has an online Virtual Training option, covering the same material for new trainers.
Kathleen Tullie, the founder of BOKS, started the program with the desire to get her own kids active and boost their academic performance. BOKS launched in October 2009 when founder Tullie rallied a small-but-dedicated group of passionate moms armed with a mission, a simple idea and whistles. These moms were the first volunteers of what would become a worldwide movement.
Tullie and her teamwork alongside Reebok now have grown BOKS to more than 2,700 schools (and counting) across all 50 states and four countries.
Dr. Elsie Taveras, a professor at Harvard and head of general pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital, oversaw the study on BOKS and has had children who participated in the program. Speaking with the New York Times, Taveras says that pre-school exercise will do more than fight obesity.
“In my experience as a pediatrician and parent, kids naturally love to move,” she says. “They revel in it. We have socialized that love out of them.”
She believes that programs such as the one in this study might help to re-instill some of our children’s instinctual pleasure in motion, she says.
“I’ve watched sessions,” she says. “You can see the kids light up with joy.”