Originally published Sept. 17, 2019 by KIOW-FM.com.
By A.J. Taylor
Area school districts are introducing new physical education standards this school year that provide teachers with a framework to strengthen instruction from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Stacy Frelund, government relations director for the American Heart Association of Iowa, says the organization was on the team that made the recommendations. She notes that Iowa has the 10th highest obesity rate for youths ages 10 to 17.
She says that’s likely because screen time by children is creeping up – from phones, to social media, to online gaming – making new health and physical education guidelines more important than ever.
“Physical education classes are classes,” she said. “They have curriculum just like science and math classes do. It gets into mental health even and how to adapt PE to kids that might have challenges.”
The American Heart Association recommends parents and children adopt the daily ‘5-2-1-0’ rule: five fruits and vegetables per day, two hours of screen time, one hour of exercise and zero sugar-sweetened beverages.
Iowa’s new health and physical education standards, which are optional for schools, outline what a student should know and be able to do at each grade level.
Frelund says like adults, children who exercise report reduced anxiety, better sleep, and improved blood sugar control. She notes there also are long-term cognitive benefits.
“Kids’ health is so important that it shouldn’t be something that we forget and make last on the list,” she said. “Especially when you look at how physical activity and physical education can really impact kids’ brains, test scores and how they are doing in some of their other classwork.”